When I was in my freshmen year in college in Cambodia, I had one goal in mind which was to be a great teacher. That was how I decided to go for Bachelor of Education in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Basically, I was trained to be a language teacher. My classmates and I were taught how to approach language teaching and all kinds of teaching methodologies. Not until did I reach the near end of my degree, I was brought to realize one important teaching philosophy. I realized that teaching is all about inspiring students to advance frontiers.
There are two parts in this philosophical statement: inspiring students and advancing frontiers. With inspiration, I realized that no teaching methodologies are effective enough to make uninspired students to fully learn anything. Inspiration is almost the very first prerequisite for all kinds of learning, and I believe that teachers have a role in making sure that their students come to class highly inspired to learn.
To achieve this, teachers need to go the extra miles in their lesson planning for every class. To inspire students is to give them compelling reasons to learn and do well in class. For teachers, planning the lessons is already difficult, but having to convince students to learn with compelling reasons is completely an extra troubling task. It’s frustrating to accept that students coming to class are not necessarily inspired to learn. However, making a habit to inspire students in every class would help teachers achieve effective teaching, especially in today’s Information Age.
In the Information Age where digital technologies give students limitless possibilities to navigate and find information at rapid speed, teaching has to be more than just giving information. Teaching has to be inspiring. Teaching has to inspire students to use the power of digital technologies to take their learning to the next level. Digital technologies can be distracting to learning; yet, with proper inspiration, students will find ways to use digital technologies to effectively empower their learning.
The second part of my teaching philosophy is advancing frontiers. This is one of my core beliefs as a learner, a teacher and in general a knowledge seeker. To me, knowledge is not fact, thus not constant. An empirical truth, called knowledge, is temporary. That means a new empirical study may prove that particular truth or knowledge wrong at a later point of time. With this belief, I tend to have a critical approach to knowledge where I always constantly have a desire to challenge and advance it as much as I can. This excites me everyday about learning because I know that I have a chance to not just learn what established but to improve and enhance it.
As a teacher, I want this excitement about learning for my students as well. In every class, I try to remind my students that they have the opportunities to challenge and advance what being taught to them. Therefore, instead of asking my students “Why is a particular knowledge like that?” I always ask them “Why does it have to be like that?” By making students realize that they can advance knowledge frontiers, learning becomes an exciting and highly critical journey.
Before I go into a class, I ask myself “What should I do to inspire my students to advance frontiers?”