Perhaps a more sensible way of expressing a philosophy of teaching is to adopt a student-centric focus whereby we should more properly refer to a “philosophy of learning”. In order to be effective teachers, our academic staff must – of necessity – focus on student learning and adjust their teaching strategies in response to the pace and depth of student understanding.
Approaching teaching as a scholarly activity with continual evaluations and adjustments demands that our academic staff maintain a focus on student learning and continually improving their methods of instruction. By utilizing flexible teaching strategies, rather than the rote adherence to a particular teaching style, our academic staff are able to moderate their classroom teaching methodology to match the abilities and pre-existing knowledge that each student brings to the classroom. The essential role of the educator is therefore to create interactions which foster interest and understanding for individual students.
This approach to learning emphasizes a cognitive developmental perspective. As highlighted by developmental theorists, students learn best by actively exploring their environments. This type of “trial-and-error” learning is then supportively nurtured by having a support structure in place to facilitate understanding. The self-paced nature of exploratory learning relies on the notion that effective learning environments actively engage students with the material and promote meaningful associations between new material and information already known. It is accordingly the responsibility of each of our educators to nurture students to generate their own context for meaning through the application of new material to their everyday lives.
In summary, the role of our academic staff is to foster critical thinking in order that our students might become more effective consumers of information, to promote mastery over course content, develop critical skills for future mastery and to encourage the synthesis of course material to real-world contexts.