As a teacher, my purpose is to lead my students to mastery of course concepts rather than the simple absorption of information. To do so, I build my students’ skills from retrieval of information, to synthesis of information, and finally critical analysis. True mastery of a concept means it can be used as a tool beyond initial in-class applications. In mathematics, this process involves student-led derivation of key formulas upon which the structure of logical theory is built. While the social sciences may not have equivalent fundamental principles, all students of social science can learn to understand and exploit the underlying models of social and political thought in a similar way. To lead students to this meta-analysis of social patterns, I help them to examine their own preconceptions, asking them not only what they think about an issue or concept, but why they think it.
Interdisciplinary approaches can be discomfiting, even threatening, when they challenge our notions of “right” and “wrong” ways of thinking – fundamental ways that people make sense of the world. I believe that students need to be supported as they gain greater comfort with ambiguity. I aim to help students become more intellectually flexible, more confident in their own analytical powers, and more capable of intellectual adventure.
I have posted a selection of comments from student evaluations on the Testimonials page.