Teaching Philosophy – Any Advice?
I am currently preparing my CV and Cover Letter for an adjunct position at a nearby university. The school also asks for a “teaching philosophy,” which I have not yet needed to write. The idea seems so absolutely vague that I really am not sure what is being asked for, so below is my best shot. If any of you have any advice, I could REALLY use it. I will likely be putting this in the mail tomorrow, so let me know if I absolutely missed the mark! Thanks!
As an Adjunct Instructor of Religion, my goal in the classroom is to present major topics in religion (depending on the course, this could mean various world religions or topics within one religion or holy text) are to foster critical thinking and improve basic skills required throughout college and later life, including reading, writing, and study techniques.
My primary goal in teaching is to empower the student to think critically about a subject that they would otherwise overlook. The purpose of teaching religion is not to promote one point of view over another, but instead to offer various viewpoints and give the students the resources to analyze the various viewpoints in order to asses them critically.
A prime example of fostering critical thinking within the religion classroom is the presentation of two opposing viewpoints on interpretation of a passage of scripture in my New or Old Testament courses. While a student might simply assume that the interpretation they are more familiar with is correct, I hope to enable the student to view and engage different theories (both familiar and foreign) critically instead of simply ignoring the unfamiliar. This same approach can be applied to World Religion classes, which, in the state university system, must be taught from an informative point of view and not a confessional point of view.
I also strive to help my students improve basic reading, writing, and studying abilities while in my courses. I encourage my students to turn papers in early so that I might return their papers with comments prior to giving a final grade, and I assign a healthy amount of reading on which the students are quizzed. I have adopted a tactic I learned during my graduate work; having the students use class time to work in small groups encourages them to continue working in a group while studying outside of the class, while at the same time fostering academic relationships with their peers.
The position is teaching World Religions as an adjunct at a state university, which is what I geared my philosophy towards. If I was applying to a small liberal arts school with a religious background, I would have written this slightly differently.