At the heart of my philosophy lies the work of Hannah Arendt who speaks of the three-fold nature of human condition. Firstly the temporality of being in touch with natural cycles, including the academic year; secondly the spatiality of creating an academic world, which includes the curriculum, and thirdly the relationships that foster successful learning outcomes and assessments that led to graduation and registration as a professional.
Students come to us for a period of learning that is marked by the rhythms of the academic year, analogous in ways to playing a piece of music. Teaching involves silent spaces and moments of crescendo. I strive to orchestrate fluid yet stable learning contexts to accommodate the needs of all learners. Some students come prepared to ‘sight read’, others come believing they are tone deaf, and others want to improvise. My keys tasks are to identify the pacing and receptivity that each student brings to their learning, determine their individual capacity for challenge and support, and bring everyone together as a harmonious community of learners and teachers.
Assessment helps students to answer the question of “who am I in relation to this learning challenge?” It is my role and privilege as a teacher to design authentic and integrated assessments that increase knowledge, skills and experience. Successful completion of each assignment creates for the students islands of security. Gradually, through the assessment process, the student gets the confidence to be the author of their own story and this is point at which the student is recognized and welcomed as a colleague.
I navigate the potholes and the portals within the curriculum for and with the students. Sometimes we trudge along, and other times magic portals open up and students are suddenly able to explore concepts in depth and to make connections. My role is to provide signposts and subtle cues about the vastness of the content to be learned, without overwhelming anyone.
I also create little ‘clinics without walls’ as fieldwork opportunities for students to try out their skills while genuinely helping people. As a ‘disobedient teacher’, I break out of teaching silos and draw in students from other disciplines to work with my students. Two recent collaborations involved creating an app to screen for visual impairment with Information Technology students and developing simulation goggles with Design students.