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Educator voices: Ed on his educational philosophy

Watch Ed Taylor, one of our lead educators, talk about his educational philosophy!
I think this is uuh really fundamental for educators to think about. What gets them up in the morning when they go to work and teach, what do they hope to accomplish on the long-term with their students? So when I think about this question, I think about teaching is about changing the world. It’s about teaching in a way that engages students to interact with others and themselves and think about engaging the world in new ways. And these changes may be typically small and incremental, but in the long-term they can make a difference in the lives of others. That’s what I mean about teaching for change.
This seems like a sort of a question that’s already been answered. People think, well, what I teach is determined by the texts or the institution in which I work, or maybe on my specialty. But I think there’s much more to this question that should be given thought. When a teacher walks in the classroom and closes that door, he or she determines what really they’re going to teach that day or what they’re not going to teach that day. And my philosophy even goes further than that.
That I think it’s really about getting students involved about what they want to learn, what their interests are and try to involve them in making decisions about what’s going to be a part of that course. So in the long run, this will create ownership and shared responsibility about the outcome of the course.
This is something that is fluid and ever changing. There’s not like one way that I always teach. But I would say there’s probably some general strategies or practices that I tend to rely on. One is, I really think it’s important to be interactive when you’re teaching. So I’m not a big fan of lecturing to class. And if I do give a lecture, it tends to be quite short. But within the context of the lecture, I want to find ways to interact and engage my students. This means both and by asking questions, but also by moving around the room and trying to get in close proximity to them while I teach. Also, it’s really important for students to work collaboratively.
Students can learn as much from each other as they can learn from me. So I need to provide opportunities for them to work in groups and to engage each other around the content of the course and bring their own experience into the course. And I would say the third thing. It’s really about building relationships with students, feeling that they can trust me, I’m accessible, I’m something beyond just being an educator in the classroom. 82 00:02:60,000 –> 00:03:01,370 When you think about this,
I think it’s really easy just to think this is something formally educators do. They give exams or quizzes. But really it’s much more than that. Evaluation, like teaching, is something that’s fluid. It changes based on your needs and interests, both for the student to you at the time when you’re teaching or maybe later on in the course. So in an everyday sense, you walk in the classroom, you’re constantly looking at the students as you’re working them. And you’re trying to evaluate them.
You’re trying to make sense: Are they understanding? Are we getting to this material the way we want to? Is giving… are they making meaning of it in the right way? Then there’s more and more classical, traditional sense of evaluation where you give quizzes and exams. But I think you have to go further than that. I think it’s important, at least philosophically for me, is how can I involve students collaboratively in the evaluation process? And this can happen in a couple of ways for me. One is that when I do give a quiz or an exam, I want the students involved. I want them to help me create this exam, or at least part of it.
They can construct some of the questions for this task. And the other process we can involve students to evaluate their learning is that when it comes to assignments or projects, I want the students to negotiate with me about these projects and assignments and how, whether they’ll be of interest to them, at the same time, I feel like I can capture whether they’re understanding the material or the content of the course.
Okay, this is an interesting question, in a sense, it’s almost an existential question in a way that what is knowledge, whose knowledge is considered in the course and whose knowledge is not considered in a course. Very often we think a simple answer to this, well, it would be the book that you’re teaching from, or it would be the expertise that the faculty member brings to the classroom. But really I think it’s much more than that. I think that it also involves the students experience, their understanding, what they bring to the classroom. So as teaching unfolds in a classroom, you’re really, it’s really about co-constructing knowledge within the context of the course.
And the more you can engage the students knowledge within the context of the faculty members’ experience or expertise, the content and the material that you bring in, it’s going to engage students more; they’re going to have a greater sense of responsibility and interest in the course.

That video was teeming with insight wasn’t it?

Let’s now hear from Ed Taylor, another one of our lead educators, on his educational philosophy.

Edward Taylor is a Professor Emeritus of Lifelong Learning and Adult Education and a Visiting Professor and Consultant for Faculty Development at University of Padova.

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