This week, Rob Jenkins, a regular contributor to The Chronicle, wrote an excellent piece on philosophies of teaching. Most of us have, at some point, written a philosophy of teaching, almost always in the process of trying to get a job, and I would imagine almost never with any real thought or conviction. Or, to be fair, we put a lot more thought in conviction into how what we say sounds to a potential employer than to how it might actually play out in the experiences of our students.
I looked back at one I wrote when I first went on the job market 15 years ago, and I’ll have to admit at least some of it sounded good. And I actually meant some of it and even still agree with some parts. I’m not sure, however, how much such philosophies mean unless they manifest themselves in our teaching practice, and I can’t get myself to go much further these days to suggest the most vital philosophical concept in teaching is sincerely caring about whether you’re good at it or not.
That being said, Jenkins’ piece is definitely worth taking a look at. I posted it on Facebook a few days ago and got several favorable comments, both from teaching faculty and people who wish they’d had better teachers in college.