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TEACHING & INSTRUCTION

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

“A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience's attention, then he can teach his lesson.”                              -John Henrik-Clarke

 

The most notable and influential teachers I encountered during my matriculation through the world of academia were not only knowledgeable, but also engaging, passionate and captivating in their presentation of the lesson at hand.  It is with this experience that I dared not teach until I found an area of my own academic interests that I cared deeply enough about to have a true passion for it. The type of passion that inspired me to research the theories and history of an area to the point of needing no textbook, just a lesson plan and a single student.  My ability to engage the text or subject matter not simply as a series of facts to be memorized, but to present the subject’s synthesis with the lived experience of the students offers me the great power of engaging in the transmission of wisdom, as opposed to the generic passing of information that most will forget by the next semester of courses

 "Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today."                                             -Malcolm X.

 

The first lesson in any class that I teach is that of overcoming the most powerful hindrance to learning anything new, the concept of cognitive dissonance.  Cognitive dissonance , or the anxiety that results from simultaneously holding contradictory or otherwise incompatible attitudes, beliefs, or the like, is instrumental in keeping the uneducated from truly becoming educated.  Many have been given the shackles of ignorance which often creates a closed-minded approach to the world that damages the potential that education has of unifying us as citizens of the global community, not as exceptional slaves to our own culture incapable of incorporating the knowledge and beauty of all the wisdom of the world.  It is my primary goal not to have my students agree with me, but to understand that in any situation, it is imperative that they be able to hear and understand all points in any given argument or theory.  The better view a student has of the entire picture, the better she/he is able to understand the nature of the disagreement, making compromise or mutual understanding of differences a more viable option than dismissal of someone or their ideas.  Once cognitive dissonance is overcome, the world becomes a much easier place to navigate, and as a teacher it is my responsibility to make my students not only better academics, but better human beings capable of human understanding.

“Powerful people cannot afford to educate the people that they oppress, because once you are truly educated, you will not ask for power. You will take it.”

-John Henrik-Clarke

 

One of my most tightly held philosophies in teaching is the transmission of the importance of critical thinking.  In my classrooms before I give any test, I challenge the student’s understanding of the lessons learned by engaging them in critical thinking exercises to open up their thought processes past the talking or bullet points that textbooks often use to insure memorization.  It is essential that the students be able to articulate their understanding of any given subject beyond the scope of what is immediately presented to them.  It is within critical analysis that information becomes workable, usable knowledge.  While I’ve encountered many teachers who sought to control the knowledge by teaching with some political slant or agenda, I encourage many different views and ideas to be shared and explored.  However, I push my students to critique their own stances through critical analysis of them in order to strengthen their views with empirical evidence and logic, an art that in today’s opinion-based, blog-heavy world where facts are conflated with personal agendas, is lost in the shuffle.  It is my contention that emphasis on critical analysis at the undergraduate level makes for better prepared graduate students, giving them the chance to bring with them an academic toolbox with well rounded, thought out arguments and opinions on the issues closest to their hearts and academic interests.Overall, these are the three key tenets of my teaching philosophy. I utilize many other techniques as I learn from my students while teaching them.  No two classes are taught the same as no two students learn the same.  I am shaped by my student’s experiences and comments as much as they are shaped by my teaching style.  It is with this flexibility that I hope to continue to grow as an educator throughout the duration of my life, as teaching is not a career for me, it is a life passion that I will continue to explore whether I’m in a classroom, street corner, grocery store or anywhere else I have the opportunity to give and receive knowledge.

Courses Taught:

AAS 310 - History of Racism and Prejudice

AAS 376 -The Black Male,

SOC 310 – Race & Ethnic Diversity   

SOC 220 - Social Problems

SOC 100 - Intro to Sociology

UNIVERSITY INSTRUCTION

Courses Taught:          POS 2041 - American Government

Courses Taught:                SOC 100 - Intro to Sociology

POS 204 - American Government     

AMH 201 - American History I

Courses Taught:                AFA 4931- Race in Contemporary America         

HIS 3938 – Race in Modern America

Courses Taught:                POS 1601 - Constitutional Law

POS 1112 - State and Local Government            POS 2001 - Intro to Political Science

PUBLICATIONS

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"The Effect of Post Racial Theory On Education"

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National Black Child Development Institute Annual Report: "Being Black Is Not A Risk Factor"

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training Manual