Teaching Philosophy (Pedagogy)

My Teaching Philosophy

My approach to teaching has naturally evolved over the course of my career. And my teaching is also naturally tailored to both the particular subject matter and the abilities of particular students. For as Socrates observes in Phaedrus, successful communication requires both a knowledge of the subject matter and a knowledge of the audience.

At the heart of all my teaching, however, is one simple and profound truth:

Teaching is the art of assisting discovery.
— Mark Van Doren, Liberal Education

Although I have never written a formal statement of my teaching philosophy, I have on three occasions articulated aspects of my perspective on the Socratic Method study of Great Books by adults:

As I understand it, the essence of my role as a Socratic Method Great Books instructor is to help students develop their cognitive skills and critical empathy by facilitating “Aha!” moments of discovery. This slide from the 2016 “Group Therapy with Great Books” lecture summarizes the means necessary to the achievement of that end:

Teaching Philosophy (Pedagogy)

“Aha!” Moments of Discovery

This three-minute video is priceless because it epitomizes in unmistakable terms the means and ends of Socratic Method teaching at its finest. I like to think that something similar occurs in my courses, albeit at a more advanced level. Seriously. I urge you to watch it.