Philosophy of Education
John R. Taylor
I believe that an understanding of the sciences will make a better citizenry. Therefore, I take my job seriously, especially when my teaching involves students who are required to take science courses to fulfill general education requirements.
Though I have taught courses at all levels, I am drawn to the beginning courses. The first steps in a journey are often the most important. A love of nature, like the love of music, is universal, comprising a significant part of the human existence. We are drawn to wildness. Though most of my students will not become professional biologists, they can still be taught to carry the tune of life.
My best teaching experiences have come from lessons designed to be student-centered. My success and natural inclination towards inquiry-based, project, or problem-based learning is the main reason I enjoy my profession and why I feel I have had so much positive feedback from my students. I design my instruction towards this environment and have become quite adept at it.
College students are not customers. Nor are colleges commodities. The students have come to college to gain skills and understanding that they currently do not possess. Their success or failure in this endeavor relies more on the students willingness to engage in the experience than it does on programs found within the institution. I do not believe that those who are vacant in skills and understanding are the best source for information on how to gain these life-long skills. I liken this to asking someone to draw a map to somewhere they’ve never been.
Learning is a personal event. My passion is to create the environment for this personal integration to occur. I cannot force it’s occurrence, but can only facilitate. The creation of education programs must be relevant, intentional, and flexible enough to meet that personal need. A “big-box” view of education, while excellent for the financial bottomline, is anything but personal. Schools who fail to realize this will soon be out of business. More importantly, we will have failed this next generation should higher education not stop this trend.
Focus should be placed on creating as many personalized experiences as possible. Faculty/staff need to learn how to support the learning process and to assess if it has actually occurred. Learning is a community engagement; much of the most valuable learning takes place outside of the classroom. Institutions should be centered on this concept, providing ways for their students to engage in relevant and innovative ways. This, to me, is the future of higher education.