Philosophy of Education

My mission as an educator is to develop literacy through a process of critical empathy, both in my students and in myself.

We know ourselves, our world, and our place in it more fully when expand the perspectives we’re willing to consider and care for. This is empathy. Critical empathy takes this a step further. It insists that empathy is most effective not when we simply submit blindly to another’s perspective, but when we interrogate that perspective, explore its nuances, and emerge with a more complete idea of what it means to be human. Every experience, interaction, and confrontation – both internal and external – becomes an opportunity for growth and understanding.

This philosophy is evidenced both in how I teach and in how I build a classroom community. Each student’s perspective is not only valid but a singular lens for understanding the world. A single classroom is united in a unique cultural placement, and within each classroom is incredible variation of how that placement can manifest. My duty as an educator is to develop each lens’s individual strengths while challenging each to understand how they can best function empathetically and critically in tandem with the infinite variation of experiences.

Literacy, from this critically empathetic approach, requires skillful and versatile command of the multiplicity of languages of today’s world. The effect of a cinematic angle, the construction of a Twitter status, and the art of conversation are rife with meaning, and reflect important insights into our never-ending conversation with our surroundings.

The single greatest effect an educator can have on a student is to impart a growth- (as opposed to fixed-) mindset. A growth-mindset, frighteningly rare in public education, gains strength from effort and risk rather than success versus failure. Standards are a necessary aspect of education, but curriculum must take a process-based approach to those goals, viewing learning – and life – as a confrontation of fear and unknown in spite of the risk.

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