Teaching Philosophy

“We must start teaching young people that we don’t just live in a read-only passive society but a write-able society” 
Beth Noveck TEDGlobal 2012

I educate ambitious students eager to make their mark in the world. I inspire ambitious students to internalize rhetoric, writing, research, and critical thinking for more than academic needs. My pedagogy is inspired by Beth Noveck insisting educators “start teaching young people that we don’t just live in a read-only, passive society, but a write-able society,” and my pedagogy is highly influenced by the ambitious students I teach. I foster students’ desires to master crucial tools necessary for success in academic and professional society, and I assist students in transferring these tools to the write-able society so they can become civic-minded practitioners. Students must receive practical knowledge and practical application of rhetoric and composition to internalize these crucial tools; they must understand their role and responsibilities in both the academic and the write-able society, and they must also develop a desire to change their role in these societies from passive consumer to active producer-consumer.

Knowledge requires critical thinking. I urge students to think critically about everything from course texts to social media. I encourage my students to seek a critical and logical explanation when they can espouse none. I make it clear their quest should include open-minded inquiry. They question illogical thinking in a manner that fosters critical dialogue rather than defensive argument. They learn to reciprocate open-mindedness with dialogue and to challenge closed-mindedness with facts. I model critical thinking for my students so they may model critical thinking among their peers.

Critical thinking encourages critical analysis. I stress critical analysis in the broader, write-able society, not just academics. My students turn their critical thinking skills to everything they read and view. We conduct scavenger hunts for fallacies in social media, respond to propaganda with factual argument, and explore methods for encouraging critical analysis among our peers. We illustrate how fallacies, unreliable sources, and propaganda impact ethos. These activities stress the individual’s role as both a knowledge producer and consumer and the responsibility to critically analyze before both producing and consuming knowledge.

Critical analysis emphasizes information literacy. My students push Google to the limits of credibility and reliability, delve further than ever before into library resources, and inquire of librarians when confused or unsure in their research. We delve into the similarities between credible and reliable sources for both academic and write-able society research.Similarities emphasize differences; differences perpetuate dialogues about audience needs and expectations These dialogues further understanding about when research is necessary, what research is necessary, and where research is conducted. My students internalize the power of task-appropriate research in disseminating information.

Information literacy establishes dialogicity. My students distinguish between academic dialogues in print publications and discipline listservs; they distinguish between write-able dialogues on advocacy websites and organization news. My students explore the language of their discipline through publications, listservs, and hallway chatter;they explore the language of write-able society through websites, Facebook groups, and tweets. Together, we investigate dialogic shifts occurring between and among these divergent conversation. My students grapple with the dialogic nature required when transitioning to roles as active producer-consumers. We draw language for the conversations from Mikhail Bakhtin; we draw experiences from writing tasks across a plethora of communities.

Dialogicity affirms social construction. We contemplate the future of social media in both academic and write-able societies. Henry Jenkins and James Paul Gee provide the language and conventions for discussions about participatory culture and affinity spaces, but more specific knowledge comes from what students know and how they interact among these cultural spaces. We construct and deconstruct the classroom discourse community. We explore how the divergent voices—the cheerleader, the gamer, the mother, the disabled, the veteran—contribute to our class-based social construction of rhetorical knowledge. We distinguish between discourse communities and affinity spaces, and we emphasize the unifying construct of these distinct groups: messages with clarity and ethos encourages members to pay attention, weigh options, and take action. Through this learning, my students further internalize the necessity to assess the source of information and to distinguish between information credible through research and that credible through specific life experiences.

Academic society requires composition. Without composition, students are stymied in academic society. Rhetorical knowledge atrophies without the ability to present the knowledge intelligibly. Each rhetorical tool and action returns our discussion to composing; each composing act returns our discussions to rhetoric. With a backdrop of Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr., and diverse student-selected examples my students internalize the power of delivering their words to an audience. We explore academic audiences and multivocal utterances in invention, audience and genre in revision. Students grapple with kairos, exigency, and ethos. Final papers recognize the language, structure, and citation demanded in academic society. Delivery becomes final as students make their entrance as producer-consumers in academic society.

Write-able society requires composition. Final papers are not final products, but rather the culmination of academic-specific skills. We make meaning of how a similar message is conveyed beyond the traditional, the academic, the print genre. We grapple with conveying the same argument orally, nonverbally, visually, and electronically. Students recast language, analyze visuals, record audio, and justify hyperlinks as they transform their written, academic message to a multi-genre product. My students struggle with maintaining power and exigency in a genre that may invoke more complicated audiences than originally addressed. They confront media specific literacies. The process frustrates and confuses; the final product rewards and inspires. Delivery becomes action as students make their entrance as civic-minded producer-consumers in write-able society.

My teaching content is malleable and highly influenced by serendipity, student input, current events, and popular culture. No class is the same, and no material will work the same for each class. I remain flexible in my teaching to engage my students in their learning. As an educator, I fail my students if I cannot engage them and instill in them a desire to improve their rhetorical tools and writing skills for purposes beyond academic and professional societies. I am deeply influenced by the theories and ideas of many studious theorists; however, these theorists only inform my pedagogy. My pedagogy is highly inspired by the ambitious students who enter my classroom each semester, eager to make their mark in the world. These students inspire me to help them make their mark, both in academic society and the write-able society. I strive to ignite a passion within them that gives them a reason and a desire to think and read critically, to research and to write about their passions.