My Brand of Education

I’ve been thinking deeply about my teaching, which isn’t unusual, but I’ve come to the point where I think I need to write about my teaching. Namely, I need to write about my vision for my teaching. In doing so, I will also be writing about my “brand.” Or niche. Or pedagogical oeuvre (comme vous voulez).

(This quarter, I’m teaching a class on “personal branding”; hence, all the references to my “brand.” I’m sure I’ll explore the idea of “branding” in more detail in subsequent posts.)

I believe that education is a consciousness-raising experience. Education enlightens us. (Yes, education, as in “school,” also socializes and indoctrinates us–in ways good and bad). At its core, education, or learning something, changes who we are as human beings. When I learn a new skill or a new way of thinking, I am forever changed by that learning. Education asks us to look at who we are and move beyond that; in other words, we have to be self-aware in order to learn. To put it yet another way, education necessitates that we change the way we do something and everything. To make that change, you have to be aware of how you currently do things. Enter self-awareness or consciousness.

Writing demands awareness. In the idea-generating, note-taking, brainstorming, and drafting stage, we need to silence our inner critic, but this doesn’t mean we are not aware. As writers, we do need to notice our thoughts; otherwise, those thoughts might not ever make it down on paper. Once we get the fresh skeleton of our ideas down, we can go back through to chop and tighten. This process likewise requires awareness; we need to honor and attend to the words and be mindful of what fits and what doesn’t. Easier said than done. I try to introduce these ideas to my students. Easier said than done.

I still haven’t found a way to teach the way I want to. Part of my frustration stems from institutional constraints and from setting. I don’t know that an academic environment is best fit for me and my teaching. In a nutshell, I’m interested in combining my passions for nature and writing with my interest in consciousness-raising education. Again, not sure what this looks like, but I’ll keep you posted.

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