My teaching experience includes teaching biology and general science courses to high school students at a private boarding school, tutoring students in math and science at Sylvan Learning Center, teaching philosophy to middle school students and ethics to gifted high school students through the Halbert and Nancy Robinson Center for Young Scholars’ Summer Challenge and Transition School programs at the University of Washington, acting as a teaching assistant at the University of Washington, and my current position as a Full Time Lecturer at the University of Washington Tacoma. Indeed, I have been teaching in one way or another since 2003, and have been teaching at the college level either as a graduate student teaching assistant, graduate solo instructor, or lecturer continuously since 2006.
I am an energetic instructor. This owes to my personality, my passion for philosophy, my concern for my students, and my love of the job. I find teaching incredibly enjoyable and love seeing the light switch on when a student grasps a new idea, flips out an objection, or applies an idea in an interesting way to some part of his or her life. Indeed, while flying back from Alaska last winter a fellow passenger asked me what I did for a living. After I described my work as a Lecturer at the University of Washington Tacoma, she asked if I was satisfied with my career. I replied honestly: “Every morning while I walk to the University I can’t help but smile because I know I’m about to do exactly what I want I want to do, and that it matters to my students that I do it. So yes, my career is deeply satisfying.” That’s the truth. Period.
My teaching methods at all levels have been influenced a lot by my experience with philosophy for children. Thus I like to incorporate video clips, music, art, and snippets of compelling stories from outside of the course reading, games with a philosophical point, and humor into my classes as often as I can. I also include many thought experiments, group activities, and in-class assignments focused on developing particular skills such as working through the various ways of dealing with a dilemma and coming up with effective counterexamples. In the end I employ a combination of media, discussion, games, group work, discussion, and energetic lecturing. No, I don’t use each of these every class session, but I do strive for variety. And I always meet my students eye-to-eye as fellow inquirers.
My chief aims in all of this are to:
- Get students engaged in philosophical discussions right away to invest them in the course’s chief questions;
- Give students tools to effectively access the content of intellectually demanding argumentative texts; and to
- Develop a conceptual vocabulary that helps students think more deeply about philosophical questions.
My hope is that students can apply philosophical thinking to their own lives by the end of any course I teach. Though each of my courses stands on its own, students who take several of my courses will find that they have been structured in a complimentary fashion. The ideas of philosophy are interconnected and it is neat to see students draw those connections across courses with different topics and points of focus.
Every quarter it is my hope that every student takes something valuable from each course he or she takes with me.