teaching philosophy is premised upon my sincere concern for the
intellectual, spiritual and social formation of students. There are three phrases which
express this pedagogical vision: they are "academic excellence",
"critical thinking" and "collaborative teaching
are structured so as to accommodate various adult learning styles,
which include the basic elements of lectures, assigned readings
and formal written work. Of equal importance, my classes also
include small-discussion groups. These latter smaller groups facilitate
dialogue about the lectures (both with the professor and among
the students), and are geared to getting the student to critically
analyze the causes and consequences associated with historical
periods, events, people and ideas.
In both the
lecture and tutorials students participate in this collaborative
learning process, and are given the opportunities to develop their
historical methodology and to express their creative, independent
and critical thinking. The student is encouraged to develop such
an historical consciousness through the reading of primary source
texts, rather than simply relying on interpretations from secondary sources.
For my history courses, the primary sources are chosen to reflect
the common and diverse elements of early and Byzantine Christianity in its various
geographical, socio-cultural, linguistic, philosophical and contextual
to this personal contact with students, in my teaching I have
also utilized modern information technology. I value technological
literacy---the new generation of students demand it, and will
require to use it with greater critical sophistication in their
future studies or employment.
I am also
sensitive to the various educational, religious and cultural backgrounds
of my students, and so I begin my courses with student introductions.
These help build a sense of community in the class and witness
to the religious and cultural pluralism of the students. I am
particularly sensitive to the needs of students whose native language
is not English, offering them assistance in any way I can (e.g.
in their note-taking, reading and writing). This, I feel, is a
great benefit to Regis College's international students (who come
from more than forty countries outside of North America), and
to new immigrants.
At Regis and
the Toronto School of Theology there is a small yet significant
minority of students who are Eastern Christian, or who are interested
in Eastern Christianity. Since there was no formal college or
institute of such studies, in 2000 I co-founded the Eastern
Christian Studies Program. (The
program is a collaborative effort of Regis College and St. Michael's
College). Students now may earn a certificate, diploma or specialize
in Eastern Christianity in their basic degree programs, or simply
take courses in Eastern Christianity. The program currently has
a wide variety of students, which include those in the Byzantine
and Slavic Eastern Christian traditions (e.g. Greek, Ukrainian,
Bulgarian, Macedonian, Romanian), the Oriental Orthodox Tradition
(e.g. Ethiopian, Eritrean) and the Assyrian Traditions, as well
as students from other churches (e.g. Roman Catholic, Anglican).
This program also has recently begun to attract students interested
in pursuing graduate studies at the M.A. and Ph.D. levels.
I do not have
formal office hours. I encourage students to call, e-mail or drop
in whenever they need to (see contact info here). This policy ensures that both
full-time and part-time working students always feel that they
can meet with me. For all students, my comments in the class and
on written work are geared to positive reinforcement and confidence-building
so as to motivate them towards academic excellence and leadership
in their current studies and future endeavours.
By way of
conclusion, I cannot stress enough that I look upon my teaching
and interaction with students as personal and collaborative learning
opportunities. As one of my professor's once said, "You don't
begin to learn until you begin to teach."