Teaching Philosophy and Research

I am in the process of drafting a new teaching statement, but same philosphy; I figure to rework this a number of times. I have finished 1/3 of it, as noted below. I am adding this to my teaching and research page on my webpage. Thoughts?

My teaching philosophy is shaped by the tenets of Marxism, Pragmatism, and Reconstruction-ism. It was my reading of Cornel West’s and W.E.B. Du Bois’s works as a high school, undergraduate, and graduate student that shaped my sense of intellectual and practical purpose. West’s synthesis of Christianity, Marxism, and pragmatism promulgated my construction of theodicy that finds its premise in the writings and thought processes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and John Dewey. My courses look to inculcate the point of view of the oppressed and alienated class, as it is this class that has traditionally been neglected among the privileged and in the literature of study. I find the teachings of Christ and Marx to be synonymous in that both look to eradicate social vice and poverty, racism and hate, as well as greed and materialism.

Harkness Learning Is Still the News

Through the teaching of history, it is my objective to first deconstruct a false knowledge of history by teaching students to build a new synthesis that challenges their prior knowledge (parents, minister, etc.). It is at this point in which a teacher and a student work collectively to reconstruct a new historical synthesis. Reconstructionism contends that society is in need of constant reconstruction and change, and such social change involves both a rebuilding of knowledge and how society uses that knowledge to transform the teaching and learning of materialism. Mortimer Adler, who reflects some of the qualities of the realist school of thought, proposed a Paideia method of instruction, which emphasizes a discussion/seminar style of teaching and learning. As opposed to lecture, I find the discussion/seminar method of instruction to be more liberal, hence invoking greater academic freedom of thought. Furthermore, it is here that students focus more on logic, process, synthesis, and analysis over rote memory and conclusion.

I am currently involved in multiple writing projects. The Western History Association recently accepted a paper of mine that examines European actors and their shift from the Atlantic market. This work looks at Eastern European states and the North Atlantic market during the period of the 18th and 19th century. I am set to present my work at the WHA’s annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Also, I am engaged in a long term research and writing project that looks historically at race and independent schools. The United States witnessed one of its greatest historical increases in private day schools between 1950 and 1980. Much of this increase is credited to the rise of Supreme Court rulings on matters such as religion, de jure segregation, and abortion. Unlike other historians who look at political policy and de facto segregation in explaining the rise of religious Christian schools and nonsectarian independent schools, I am reviewing their work to explain demographic developments of schools and communities while my work concentrates more on the historical experience of black students in private schools. I must address this question: How do I narrow the scope and focus of a goal that is not too broad…but one that can be geographically extensive? I will continue to look at three categories of schools: 1.) Christian schools that emerged after 1954. 2.) Nonsectarian independent schools. 3.) Boarding Schools. I am also writing a book review that compares David Lewis’ conclusion of Du Bois to Edward Blum’s American Prophet.

This summer I am presenting a week long Advanced Topics European History seminar at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth. After this event, I will prepare to deliver a lecture at the National Conference of Social Studies (NCSS) conference that will be held in Houston, Texas during the month of November.



11 thoughts on “Teaching Philosophy and Research

  1. Goodness, but I envy how completely you are in the water!

    I miss thinking about things like this – my work at Tiny Community College has really removed me from academic rigor, and I’m actually looking at the school’s closing as a blessing intended to get me back in the proverbial pool.

    I completely agree with your assessment of the discussion/seminar model. I’ve taught lectures, certainly, but I find that the seminar opens up many more avenues of thinking, and leads the students to more fully comprehend the work being done because the model requires their participation and engagement.

    Let me know if you’re ever in New England…

  2. This is you. I love the way you teach your courses and challenge your students. It has been a while since we have visited. I can see the Marxism and Reconstruction approach, but the John Dewey part I did not see. Your thoughts on private schools and the Harkness approach is both conservative and progressive.

  3. Edward,

    Great statement! Also, consider linking your interest in race and schools to your current teachings. I love your blog.

  4. Du Bois has been with you for a while. I never would have linked Marxism to teaching methods. Do you look to Socrates or Kant? How about the Chicago School? I like what you are saying though it seems too abstract. Any problems? Your students must be very bright.

  5. Mrs. Chili – So, you are in the New England area. I will be in Exeter, NH from June 22 – 26. I would love to catch up with you. You should e-mail me if you are close to Princeton (will be there in two weeks) or Exeter.

    Tracy – The Chicago School is pretty much that of John Dewey…so yes I do look to add it to my teaching style; however, I am not as experimental nor 100% student centered as it is. As for Kant — you better believe it. Ask any of my advanced students that might know about Kant (Euro hist students).

  6. I had a teacher in hs who had the same perspective. He was far more radical than you, but he allowed us to make our own conclusion. Good direction. I thought you related your outside work well with your teaching. This is very consistent with what you have been writing on this blog.

  7. Looks good. Very practical. This works well, I think, with any humanities course. I would describe this wt the start of the year to your students. I would want to know this on day one of class. Put it in your syllabus.

  8. Hi Edward, Ran across you comment on Frumteacher’s lovely blog. How strange that I’ve never crossed your path (but hey, it’s a big edusphere out there).

    I’m a retired social science teacher currently serving on a board of ed. I’m looking forward to reading more of your writing.

  9. Hugh

    Thanks for the comment. I think it is important that educators communicate. That in large part is why I created this blog. I look forwrd to hearing from you here in the future. I will continue to visit your site and hopefully contribute to the discussion. I have linked you up here.

  10. Have you read Dr. Adler’s Paideia books? The first is “The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto” in which Dr. Adler lays out how we should be educating people to prepare to become citizens. The second book is “The Paideia Program: An Educational Syllabus” in which he goes into greater detail on the program, but more importantly includes a 54 page appendix of recommended readings by age and grade and then by author and type of material.

    For your own research reading have you read Dr. Adler’s “How to Read a Book?” Here is what “How to Read a Book” did for me.

    I have been a voracious reader all my life. I never thought that I needed to know anything more about how to read. However 1990 I read about a book by someone named Mortimer Adler whom I had never heard of. The title of the book was “How to Read a Book.” Even though I thought I knew everything about how to read I became intrigued by the title. I finally bought the book. I read it and then I read it again, and again, and again. Over the course of several years Dr. Adler dramatically changed what I read, how I read, and why I read. I used to read predominantly to be entertained. Now I read to learn. Using what Dr. Adler taught me, I now get in order of magnitude more out of books that I ever did before.

    When reading to research various topics I have found Dr. Adler’s material on syntopical reading particularly valuable.

    For more information on Mortimer Adler and his work, visit http://www.thegreatideas.org, The Center for the Study of The Great Ideas

    Ken Dzugan
    Senior Fellow and Archivist
    The Center for the Study of The Great Ideas

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