Today we had a good lecture given by Prof.
Guy Allen, who is the Program Director of Professional Writing and
Communication at the
I had never been aware that a teaching dossier should be such a comprehensive document including quite rich contents. Before, there was only a document called teaching statement in my mind, which was a summary of my teaching experience that I would submit along with my C.V. and research statement to the institution where I apply to. Now I have had a better understanding about the purpose of preparing the teaching portfolio. Not only does it serve as a part of my job application package, mostly important, it also communicates with other people about my philosophical view of teaching. I am now starting to think about my assumptions about teaching and learning.
According to the handout of this lecture, the teaching philosophy answers these questions: What is my philosophy of education? What do I assume learning is? And how do I define my relationship with students?
Before taking the role of teacher, I asked these questions to myself from a student's point of view, since I have been a student for more than 20 years from elementary school to graduate school.
As a student I think that education is the process of acquiring knowledge and developing skills from organized institutions through interactions with teachers and people having similar minds (fellow students). When I entered a school, I would anticipate being in an environment that could nurture me and facilitate my growth in knowledge. Especially for higher education at university level and beyond, I was not supposed to be an empty bottle waiting to be filled up with any kinds of liquids. Instead I might have well set up a goal when taking a course and the teacher should help me to achieve it. For example, when I was taking the course of Probability and Statistics, my goal was to understand why probability and statistics are important in engineering and science and what the fundamental principles are. The teacher should not just tell us those mathematical equations and derivations. Instead they should teach us a probabilistic and statistical attitude in scientific experiments and tests by applying the basic principles to problems closely related to our own fields. Today I am still learning various techniques in Probability and Statistics even though I took the undergraduate course many years ago.
I think that learning is a lifelong process. A good teacher will give students the hunting rifle and pass on the hunting skills rather than games. Thanks to many good teachers I have encountered, my arsenal of weapon is rich and I have possessed many skills for hunting in the forest of knowledge. As a student, I would respect the teachers who had demonstrated candidly their thorough knowledge and competence in the field they were teaching. I would obey their authority in classrooms. I would not, however, pay attention to those who wanted to make students fool by using tricks.
After reflecting these questions as a student, I then asked myself to formulate my own philosophy of teaching from a teacher's point of view. I realized that building the teaching philosophy was a difficult challenge. Nevertheless, I find that basically teaching is not just to convey knowledge but also to become a gardener, nurturing, watering, and pruning plants and to see them growing. In terms of the relationship between teacher and student, I believe that a friendly, interactive, and two-way learning process will benefit to both sides.
Confucius, the greatest Chinese philosopher
and educator and the founder of the Ru
A final point I want to make is that the old way of learning through apprenticeship is still the most effective way in many fields nowadays. Particularly, in my field of Computer Science, programming skills are learned from practices. Therefore, as a teacher of a course engaging in programming, in addition to teaching them the principles and grammars of programming languages, I would design an environment to encourage the inexperienced students to learn the practical skills from experienced students and T.A.s.
It is grateful for having opportunities listening to successful professors talking about their teaching experience and colorful academic lives. Education is one of main forces driving human society developing and moving forward. It enlightens human minds and brings hopes. Thanks to Prof. Guy Allen for letting me think about the deep meaning of teaching today.