My philosophy of teaching evolves consistently as I attempt to improve my pedagogy as I learn from my students. Learning is an activity that is created in relation to others, to culture, to one’s own self, and to those around a learner. We are all both self taught and co-taught in relation to each other. Paolo Freire (1970), the grandfather of critical pedagogy explains, “Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students” (p. 163). 

Additionally, I believe that not all things we learn are equal. I want us to play with learning, but to be able to be thoughtful in such a play. We should consider what our learning might bring about, how it might oppress or liberate, how what we are learning might help or hinder. Jerome Bruner (1962), a well-known cognitive psychologist who influenced contemporary educational ideas argues that, “For any subject taught we might ask [is it] worth an adult’s knowing, and whether having known it as a child makes a person a better adult” (p. 52). I believe as an artist and educator that art is a “vehicle through which we can do such things as recover hope, dignify suffering, develop empathy, laugh, wonder, nurture a sense of communion with others and regain a sense of justice and political idealism” (Alain de Botton, 2013). The object, but also the interactions we create have an impact in our world. I know I need to consider this as a teacher in ways that aren’t always taken up by educational institutions. I know my role as a teacher has political implications since if I do not critically analyze what and how I am teaching; I am perpetuating the status quo of the current system. I believe it is my responsibility to think and to do otherwise and to experiment with my students to see how the institutions we belong to can help, but how they can be changed when they hurt (see Pitsoe & Mahlangu, 2014). 

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Photo: John Barkiple