05 May 2006


So, the school where I teach has decided I need to have a philosophy of teaching. I'm not quite sure what this means, but after some reflective exercises and a few consultations of the excellent sites dedicated to buzzword bingo, I developed the following:

Full fathom five thy father lies:
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

Shakespeare, The Tempest

In my lifetime I have witnessed a paradigm shift that seems radical only in retrospect. When I was in elementary school we had a Timex computer that used a cassette tape to store data. Several years later we upgraded to a Macintosh and were one of the few families in our circle to have a computer at home. Within ten years the words email, internet, and Web site were part of everyone’s vocabulary. The late twentieth century encompassed a massive sea change that transformed everyone’s lives. My interests, experiences, education, and training uniquely equip me to guide others to port.

Navigation is key. On unfamiliar roads we need maps – or better still, a friendly voice in the passenger seat providing directions. Similarly, we need mentors to guide us through our experiences. I have been blessed throughout with instructors who have taken sincere interest in my learning, my work, and in me. They inspired me to learn, and they continue to inspire me as I strive to meet their standards of excellence.

I am also inspired by information. I thrill to two hundred year old documents, I spend hours pouring over maps, I marvel at the information contained within books, and I look over Web sites with great interest. When I can share my enthusiasm with students, they are engaged. They share their experiences. They ask challenging questions. They strive to meet goals. They enjoy learning as much as I do.

I interact with students at the beginning of their college experiences. My immediate goal is to provide students with the knowledge base they will need to succeed in subsequent courses. More crucially, I hope to provide them with the confidence that will allow them to enter unfamiliar situations and apply their skills to achieve mastery. It is a good thing to know how to use a particular program. It is a far better thing to be able to use a tutorial to learn how a new computer works.

So. That's it for the philosophy. I tried to give it a bit of a map/navigation theme. Note too the use of the uber-buzzword paradigm. The school has a format they like so I'll have to tweak this a bit to make it fit. This will ideally become part of a larger portfolio to be mounted on the Web. Any comments and suggestions are, as always, taken under advisement.

Also, am considering setting up a class Web site so the little urchins can print out new copies of the schedule, assignments, etc. when they lose them as they inevitably will. Would the students among my readership (i.e., Kenny) be good enough to tell me what they like in a course Web site?

1 comment:

Kenny said...

Unless you have a huge grant like the American Studies department has and can develop fancy sites with discussion forums and such, you can set up something like L. Han (2006) has set up for his Remote Sensing II and Advanced GIS courses this semester at the University of Alabama (note the proper citation). I don't have him for either course (I'm a planning student, not techniques), but I did have Remote Sensing I as an undergraduate. It has excersises, and in some cases, lecture notes (powerpoint) etc. It's fairly simple to set up like this (as opposed to American Studies who, again, has a huge grant for this type stuff). Examples of both in link form included. Enjoy!