I have been a professor of occupational therapy for eight years. I am on sabbatical and have spent much of my time reflecting on my years in the classroom. Specifically, I have thought of those events that have been truly magical and those things that have been somewhat devastating. Although the vast majority of my experiences fall in the middle it seems to be the extremes I recall most clearly.
I have had a few students who have not liked my classes and many more who do not appreciate the rigorous process of learning to which I invite them. On the other hand, my lectures and teaching methods have provided students with the essential tools they need to be successful individuals, thoughtful therapists, ethical citizens, and future educators. In putting together my professional portfolio for a university wide review, and in the spirit of NPR (my constant companion during my three hours a day of commuting), I have adopted the forum of “this I believe” to compose my revised philosophy of higher education.
I believe education is the single most important opportunity that can be offered to any individual and therefore should be free to all. I believe higher education should turn truisms into questions. I believe an educator should lift students from their “comfort level” and gently let them land on a higher plateau. I believe the educator should always learn at least as much from the student as the student does from her. I believe power point should be renamed to powerless point; although efficient, this “teaching tool” does not allow for those deliciously provocative tangents that often become the memorable soul of the exceptional lecture. I believe in classrooms without walls and lectures should be taken to the libraries, coffee shops, village greens, and streets. I believe in a liberal education as a foundation for professional study. I believe that with motivation, an imagination, a book, a pen, and paper, any student can succeed. I believe grades are an end that all too often suffocates the means. I believe passion instills compassion and there is no place in higher education for the passionless professor. I believe that every person can change the world. I believe education should instill a drive for lifelong learning. I believe lifelong education can bring peace to earth. I believe we all are educators and should both embrace and wisely craft our message. I believe listening is the greatest tool of any educator…This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.