Undergraduate education changed my life. It taught me how to think critically, how to appreciate other cultures, and how to navigate the world with an open mind and heart. My goal as an educator is to inspire in my students this same life-changing experience. I try to accomplish this by fostering critical thinking skills and a broad appreciation of art and other cultures. These are skills that will serve students for their entire lives as well as make them better citizens of a well-functioning democracy.
I teach critical thinking by training the student in a simple process of taking theories and applying them to data. When writing papers, for example, my students are required to choose a specific method or theory we’ve learned in class (such as Roland Barthes’ theory of photography as rebirth), choose an object of analysis (such as the Japanese horror movie Reincarnation), and then collide the two in surprising and original ways (such as, “does Reincarnation reflect Barthes’ theory?”). This encourages students to move higher up Bloom’s Taxonomy, to apply, analyze, and potentially even create new ideas. Although this process of taking ideas and applying them in analysis is new for most students, it is clearly modeled for them in lectures, practiced in short weekly reflections and in essay tests that ask the student to go beyond what we’ve learned in class, and finally perfected in papers. The repetition encourages students to see ideas as tools in a toolkit to be collected and utilized, and attempts to get the student in the habit of thinking critically about the world around them, hopefully long after the class ends.
In practice, I believe education should be accessible and student-centered. Although I hold my students to a high standard of excellence, it is my job to ensure that each student can rise to that standard, by clearly laying out expectations and directly showing students how they can succeed at a task. For example, before a test I will provide a study guide, review material in class or in an optional review session, and after the test I will review and explain the answers. This is especially important for creating an inclusive classroom with students from diverse and/or nontraditional education backgrounds. I withhold assumptions that students already possess foundational skills such as writing a works cited page, knowing that most of my students may have received a completely different education than the one I did. If I expect students to perform well, It’s my obligation to show them how.
Drawing from my previous work as an English/writing tutor, I attempt to establish a one-on-one relationship with struggling students in my classes. I highly encourage my students to come to my office hours to discuss readings they don’t understand, to get extended feedback for assignments on which they performed poorly, and to get help while writing papers. If a student misses several assignments or is performing poorly, I email them early in the semester to ask if there is any way I can help them perform better in the class. Oftentimes, students like these are going through mental health problems or, especially in recent times, cannot adjust to online classes, and therefore need extra help and motivation in order to succeed. With such personalized attention, it is quite possible to turn a student’s performance around before the end of the semester. As someone who has struggled in school due to mental health issues in the past, I know that a teacher’s attitude can make a big difference in a student’s performance. This kind of positive and generous attitude is also essential for students with special needs and international students struggling with learning in a second language. I happily offer as much additional attention as any student needs in order to reach their full potential. This can mean going over readings together in office hours, giving assistance in writing their papers, or providing emotional support and motivation.
These are three things that define my teaching style: an emphasis on creative critical thinking, accessible teaching, and hands-on support. By combining these, I hope to create an environment in which students can reach their full potential, discover the power of critical thinking, and form a habit of deep reflection that sticks with them after they leave my class.
- CP360C: Media Studies: Sound (Spring 2021)
- CP349: Japanese and South Korean Film Studies (Fall 2020)
- CP300C: Media Arts: Sound (Spring 2020)
- CP300A: Media Arts: Photography (Fall 2020)
- JPN 490: Japanese Culture Through Film (Spring 2017)
- CP101: Film History and Analysis (Spring 2016)
- English/Writing/Test Prep tutor (2018-2019)