Teaching philosophy

My teaching philosophy is student centered in that the main goal is to create an atmosphere where learning is enjoyable and rigorous. Students are asked to take responsibility for their level of learning via the implementation of student learning contracts in each course. In order to ensure that students stay informed and up-to-date content presentation is delivered via course based web sites that students have access to 365/24/7.

While I strongly believe in the value of the liberal arts as a discipline with incalculable value, I know that students are most interested in ways that course material translates to everyday life. As such we examine extensive applications for aesthetics, ethics and logic courses that are specifically designed to relate course content to practical decision making and problem solving processes students will encounter in the workplace. For example, in logic we cover contract clauses, intellectual property and non-compete agreements so that students can make connections when they are learning about categorical propositions. In aesthetics students are asked to develop aesthetic theories that help them to situate their work in the context of trends surfacing in their major fields of study. In ethics, students are taught how to evaluate an employer’s ethical management style in order to determine if a particular situation is a good fit.

Finally, the classroom environment must function like a good community to make the classroom experience enjoyable. To that end all students are encouraged to participate in group problem solving situations to develop a sense of fraternity and mutually shared learning experiences.

Methodology

As noted above, my main objective in the classroom is to create a sense of community in a shared learning environment. This means that as a facilitator, I am also learning from my students as we use a seminar method to discuss assigned guide questions that help students navigate challenging original sources in philosophy.  At times, I also ask students to engage in group work during class to share perspectives and operate as mini-think tanks.  At the close of think tank sessions, each group reports its findings and we open the discussion to everyone.  This allows students to mimic the team environments they are likely to join once in the working world.   These mini think tanks also foster creative problem solving, teaching mind mapping for groups and provide the insight that teams charged with an identical assignment may derive vastly different solutions.  In logic  courses, team problem solving is used to initiate discussion of how/when to employ various deductive and inductive techniques for the purpose of critically evaluating arguments.

As noted above all lecture content is presented via course-specific web sites and delivered through the use of Smart Board technologies in the classroom. Students can print out lecture materials at any time from the course web site and are expected to bring those to class. Presenting via Smart Technologies allows for the simultaneous introduction of related materials from the web and other sources. In 2007 I also added a Tech Tips & Lifehacks blog where students could access information on the latest technical developments and study resources for performing well in all courses. That information has since been moved to the class-based web sites and occasionally appears as a featured story on the front page of thinkingshop.com.

Bio

Currently I hold a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Duquesne University and have also completed a project serving  as a technology curriculum and network designer for the Tidioute Community Charter School. Click on the link to access my current vita (PDF). My ongoing research interests focus on the intersection between critical theory and the ethical challenges related to the adoption of ubiquitous computing technologies (e.g., FICO scores, information architecture/access to databases, privacy-related laws, surveillance networks).

In the later category I am currently working on two short texts that explore the ways in which the Internet has changed our lived experience of autonomy and privacy by implementing new surveillance conduits.  In the first covering Marcuse’s notion of technological rationality,  I argue that the ethos driving the implementation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA, 1998), The Patriot Act (2001) and The Homeland Security Act (2002) is both a threat to autonomy and anti-humanist.  Both texts relate current surveillance practices to the post-modern theories of contemporary 20th century philosophers such as Heidegger, Marcuse, Baudrillard, Derrida, and Lyotard pointing up their relevancy for understanding the cultural and ethical transformations created by technological developments.

I also enjoy performing with my percussion ensemble, Just Us Percussion and playing with my 4 year old son, Kevin.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]