My teaching philosophy is to treat each student as a universe of potential. I nurture this potential by designing a safe and stimulating academic space for the class through: (1) meaningful interactions with fellow students and myself as a supportive teacher; (2) efficient access to information and resources; and (3) constructive and compassionate feedback mechanisms that foster personal growth and practical applications in the professional arena.
Students want to understand the world and themselves, not just the subject matter of the course that they are taking up. As their teacher, one of my principal tasks is to help them enter the door to a larger community of learners that allows discussion and critique of bodies of knowledge in all fields and disciplines that engage the human experience. The teacher is the student’s partner in learning. Teachers cover the content of the course not to protect the canon; instead, they impart the elements of the subject matter to empower the students to tailor what they learn to their needs that are in line with the spirit of the contemporary times. Another important task of the teacher is to orient the students towards research. Through this track, the students learn to be critical of findings that result from methodologies that are not up to standard or are manipulated by specific agendas. By the end of any course, it becomes second nature for students to find research gaps and to be driven by these to productively explore the world of knowledge.
My genuine love for cinema, photography, and the arts in general binds my two-pronged passion as an artist and a teacher. I share this with my students by empowering them to master the elements and techniques of their chosen art form so they could materialize their own visions through that creative medium.
Teaching is a pathway to wisdom. Fueled by their love of learning, teachers and students come together in critical discourse. This practice of knowledge in and outside the classroom leads to a distillation of insights on the essences of the human condition. When students perceive a sense of wisdom that goes beyond their mastery of the syllabus, they begin to realize that the purpose of education is to critically reflect on human experience vis-à-vis knowledge. Through my years of experience in teaching, I have gained an intuitive understanding of why I have chosen teaching as a vocation. I strongly believe that amongst the other aspects of my life – as a film/media/art practitioner, researcher, and scholar – being a teacher is the most critical because it is, for me, a direct opportunity to contribute to the future of humanity which I envision as upholding the values of critical rationality, philosophical contemplation, artistic expression, and genuine concern for the harmony of the interconnected lives and realities in the larger community of experiencing human beings where we all belong.
My research experience in phenomenology has been instrumental in my keenness to listen without prejudice and to always try to understand my colleagues and especially my students. I strongly believe that diversity and plurality of ideas, especially in times of global crises, are important in the university and the larger society for these fight the contemporary tendency for taking sides. Binary thinking that is exemplified by the “us vs. them” attitude silences the voices that cannot be reduced to dominant categories that are determined by those who are already powerful and therefore set the acceptable agenda for discourse. I look forward to contributing to the liberation of discourse from pre-established binary debates towards an opening up of alternative voices.
I deal with a diverse student population by recognizing individual struggles and perspectives and creatively forging collective configurations that are shaped by three key principles, namely, empathy, inspiration, and the constant affirmation that diversity brings out the best in humanity.
Diversity is indeed beautiful and one of the major tasks of the teacher is to nurture the plurality of intellectual life by first appreciating where students come from, then engaging them with each other in a conversation that is healthy, productive, and transformative; indeed, diversity, plurality, hybridity, and ecology are some of the invaluable components of the antidote to the hate and prejudice that constantly threaten the contemporary world. I always encourage my students to freely express their cultures through their writings, creative works, etc., to listen attentively to the voices of others, and to appreciate their insights. They see that despite our apparent differences in the way that we express, we all share some basic needs as human beings, that is, to be understood, to be recognized, to be respected, and to contribute in changing the world for the better.
I have optimized the power of Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Moodle and Canvas throughout my teaching career and postgraduate studies. To create a more engaging educational experience for students, I ensure: (1) clear and logical presentation of content such as course topics, schedules, and assessment details; (2) well curated selection of important and updated academic resources and references; and (3) practical and insightful learning activities with fellow students and the highly responsive instructor.
Whenever an online conflict or miscommunication arises within a learning platform, I manage it by always finding common ground while we address issues. This reinforces a sense of trust and leads to better communicative patterns throughout the students’ academic and professional lives.