Balance & Growth: philosophy
Education nurtures skills and encourages exploration to the final purpose that we may express our intrinsic gifts to the fullness of their potential. Education, according to me, tends to our innate curiosity in order to guide us in harnessing our unique and collective power and creative contribution.
Education is relevant, applied and magnified; meaning you can see how it relates to your life & career path, you can see the use it has, and you continue to grow what you have come to know. I believe education is a process, an appreciation for finer and finer layers of subtlety in life, love, and all corners of human thought.
Education, to some extent, is unlearning; it is building the confidence to explore beyond the known into the unknown and to play with imagination and discovery. I imagine education like a dance between the learner and her ever expanding worlds, inner and outer. Picture the growing chick in her egg, her joy at her own growth, released as an excited chirp, speeds the spiraling growth of her sisters still in their eggs. To humans, education is a natural exercise; it stretches us. It flexes and challenges us to know ourselves. Learning is a life-long gift. I teach because I love to learn, and education is my gift to share.
Enthusiasm & Inquiry: practice
My courses are designed as ever changing and evolving attempts to examine science with an interdisciplinary lens that incorporates, to the best of my ability, the history of science, the biases of science, and the applied ethics of science as vital components to the factual information of chemistry, anatomy and physiology. I believe this provides context, critical thinking, cultural awareness, and creative cooperation for students which helps them lay a solid foundation of understanding. Not only this, but I believe it puts the scientific method into practice as students are required to observe the world in a new way, ask discriminating questions, and investigate the scientific literature for clues.
Also vital to the approach I take in course design is the incorporation of multiple perspectives and marginalized voices. As more women and indigenous scientists publish about the world through their scientific lens’ it is important to include them in the conversation on current understandings in science, technology, and solutions to global problems. Our understandings of the world are ever expanding.
There is a willingness to be wrong that scientists embrace. I try to design a course so a student can be wrong and still succeed, I can be wrong and admit it, and science can be wrong and still evolving. Ideally, a student can fail a quiz, learn more about themselves and improve, and still pass a course with flying colors. Sometimes it takes a second to figure out the old ways of studying will not work for this course and trial and error is another important practice of science. Memorization is a must in the technical terminology of biology, yet can be made manageable if the story of life includes the learner and what they already know. Our thoughtful predecessors used the same logic accessible to the curious genius within each student. This world is wondrous beyond belief and inspires inquisitiveness on its own when we share what fascinates us and foster fearless failings.
Course assignments include quizzes, lab practicals and finals along with written discussions, research projects, and research papers. I believe this allows students with different strengths to have opportunities to succeed even if they are not as adept at memorization as others. The discussions include recent scientific breakthroughs, discoveries, and theories, as well as a critical lens and self reflection that require students to build connections. Rubrics and expectations are provided, and I offer each student the opportunity to send a rough draft to me for proof-reading. The discussions often lead a student gradually into their research paper. Ultimately, I hope to cultivate more self-examination, reflection, and exploration through the discussion and research topics as students learn to build a paper, research with more scrutiny, and justify their beliefs.
The examinations I use for my courses utilize multiple types of questions. For the True/False questions the students must think more critically by correcting any false statements. I include Multiple answer/Multiple choice questions that require students to include all possible answers that may apply to the given question. I also sometimes use multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching and short answer. The students have as much time as they need for examinations; however, the practicals are timed. We grade together and students are given the opportunity to correct their exams and/or contest any questions/answers they view differently. I believe these testing strategies require students to be flexible and resourceful and ultimately self-assured when they succeed.
I rely primarily on lectures to convey course material. More and more frequently I supplement with videos and powerpoints of images. However, most lectures utilize the board, hand-written notes and in-class drawings. This allows students to keep pace with me, get colorful and creative, and be responsible for their learning. They must attend class in order to take down lecture notes, or must rely on a fellow classmate to make-up missed material. Supplementary resources, such as links and articles, are provided on MyLakerLink. Learning can be a tool every student can hone for their own joy and application, so I encourage punctual and inquisitive attention to honor their time and investment. I believe my courses could benefit from more peer work and in-class discussion. They are always changing slightly as I continue to grow as an educator.
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