Personal Teaching Philosophy


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The objective here is to present my personal teaching philosophy which will direct my teaching in the future and it outlines how I understand the dynamics of learning. Document prepared as a part of the teaching assistantship course

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Personal Teaching Philosophy

  1. 1. Page 1 of 3 Personal Teaching Philosophy Objective: The objective here is to present my personal teaching philosophy which will direct my teaching in the future and it outlines how I understand the dynamics of learning. This segment is split into three sections which are of inter-related nature. Networked Concepts philosophy Being a student of Vedanta1 & ancient Indian philosophies (Tigunait, 1983), I believe in viewing the external world using a frame of reference derived from these philosophies. I believe students learn most effectively by relating their past knowledge to the new information provided to them since our internal memory can be represented as a network of concepts (Rumelhart& Norman, 1973)where new knowledge is derived through six means according to Vedanta(Sivananda, 1996) – direct observation, inference, comparison, scripture, presumption and non-apprehension. This philosophy has similarities withHolistic learning (Young, 2007) and academic ‘Body of Knowledge’2 . Personally, I have found it easy to understand new concepts if I am able to relate them with what I already know. Through this way, I am assured of clarity where deep learning (Atherton, 2003) is ensured and I am in a position to make logical inferences. This philosophy can be enforced in courses by providing a big picture of the various subjects that students have learnt and highlighting the location of the current content so that the students understand the overall context. Sense-making The student’s ability to make sense of the information conveyed to him is important. When a student memorizes information, there is no guarantee that he made any sense to himself. In fact, he has engaged in surface learning (Atherton, 2003)which defeats the whole purpose of learning in the first place. Sense-making3 research studies have been conducted in various disciplines primarily information science (Dervin, 1998)to understand how humans interpret a situation and move forward. The sense-making theory is highly relevant in academic learning since the students are in a similar situation where they move forward in their learning only after sense-making. Sense-making can be enforced by active learning techniques such as clarification pauses, one-minute paper and wait-time (Faust & Paulson, 1998). Hybrid learning 1 Vedanta philosophy consists of all the philosophical knowledge from three key Hindu texts – Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagavad Gita (Sivananda, 1996). 2 Body of Knowledge is used to refer to the collection of concepts in a particular domain 3 Sense-making is the process through which a person adds meaning to his experience
  2. 2. Page 2 of 3 We often come across two types of learning – Experiential learningand Academic learning. Experiential learning happens when one learns through sensory contact with new objects (Kolb, 1984). For example, a spectator who visits a football game to learn about the game. Academic learning is one where representations of objects are used to explain and describe new concepts. For example, a biology teacher uses images depictingthe internal structure of eye or plastic models or computer animationsfor explaining the structure of human eye. It can be said that academiclearning becomes efficient when multiple representations (both 2D and 3D) are used to explain concepts so that the students do not have to perform extensive visualizations in their heads to understand these concepts(Winn, 1982). Therefore, the key to successful transfer of knowledge in a classroom is to make academic learning as close to experiential as possible so that student cognition is made easier since the cognition levels of students are not the same. These three concepts form my teaching philosophy. They are visually represented through a model in Fig 1. Fig 1 Model for Personal Teaching Philosophy References Atherton, J. S. (2003). Learning and teaching: Deep and surface learning.Bedford, England: De Montfort University. Retrieved October, 28, 2004. Dervin, B. (1998). Sense-making theory and practice: an overview of user interests in knowledge seeking and use. Journal of knowledge management,2(2), 36-46. Faust, J. L., & Paulson, D. R. (1998).Active learning in the college classroom.Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 9(2), 3-24.
  3. 3. Page 3 of 3 Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Rumelhart, D. E., & Norman, D. A. (1973). Active Semantic Networks as a Model of Human Memory.In IJCAI (pp. 450-457). Sivananda, S. (1996). Vedanta for Beginners.Divine Life Society. Tigunait, R. (1983). Seven systems of Indian philosophy.Himalayan Institute Press. Winn, W. (1982). Visualization in learning and instruction: a cognitive approach.ECTJ, 30(1), 3-25. Young, S. H. (2007). Holistic Learning. Retrieved from