Frank W. Elwell
I have borrowed my teaching philosophy from
C. Wright Mills, a sociologist whom I greatly admire. As a graduate
student, I was exposed to Mills' The Sociological Imagination in
which he makes the following statement:
In a classroom the teacher ought
to be trying to show others how one man thinks--and at the same time reveal
what a fine feeling he gets when he does it well. The teacher ought
then, it seems to me, to make very explicit the assumptions, the facts,
the methods, the judgments. He ought not to hold back anything, but
ought to take it very slowly and at all times repeatedly; make clear the
full range of moral alternatives before he gives his own choice (p. 79).
I attempt to follow this philosophy in
all of my courses.
In the last few years I have become an enthusiastic
user of the new teaching technologies. I have long used presentation
programs to organize my lectures (as well as helping students organize
their notes). Currently, I am moving away from presentations in the
classroom. I have increasingly been using the web as an avenue of
disseminating what used to be lecture material. This has freed up class
time for more data demonstrations, computer lab simulations, and student
discussion and presentation.
I am learning. Having watched many colleagues
in the classroom I am aware that there are many different styles, many
different teaching techniques. In reflecting on my own days as an
undergraduate I remember the wide diversity. I am fully supportive
of creative teaching efforts on the part of faculty. Our merit systems
must recognize and encourage teaching excellence of all kinds. We
also need more on-campus forum in which teaching materials can be shared.
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