My teaching philosophy centers around three main goals. The first, guided by a belief that students should acquire good reading abilities before they can become good writers, is to promote self-confidence by fostering in them an appreciation for nuanced language. The second aim is informed by Sherry Lee Linkon’s concepts of “habits of mind” or “strategic knowledge” presented in Literary Learning: Teaching the English Major: specific methods of applying knowledge that facilitate progressively more in-depth interpretative practices. My approach towards promoting such habits dovetails with Howard Gardner’s mandate for attending to what he calls “multiple intelligences” in the classroom; that is to say, “logical, spatial, kinesthetic, musical, naturalist, interpersonal, and intrapersonal” learning styles. For myself, bringing out situations favorable to enacting such theories begins with nurturing student creativity and intellectual curiosity.
I am also committed to exposing students to the ethics of writing and critical reading. Ethical writing and reading encompasses many areas, such as: research (locating and assessing appropriate sources across various mediums and genres; the circumstances under which a source qualifies as “appropriate”; actively locating and integrating counter-arguments); and rhetoric (fairness and balance in analyzing primary and secondary sources; balance in critical incorporation of different views in one’s work; consideration of the lived realities of subjects under discussion; consistent openness to new ideas even if they undermine one’s beliefs and/or scholarly trajectory). These topics are areas I endeavor to practice and continually promote in my courses by encouraging my students to search for questions instead of answers at every stage of the research and writing process, to locate his or her personal investments within any text, film, or media and then to question these investments as well.