| history - xianity | roots | icons | trinity - church | eastern doctrines | commmunion |


Prof. Jaroslav Skira



My 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 and learning."

My courses 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 expressions.

In addition 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."






jerry.skira@utoronto.ca |