Teaching Philosophy

The modern society is dominated by rapid changes in science and technology. I view the role of the teacher as the bridge between two worlds, the body of scientific knowledge and the eager student learner; the teacher is not the source, nor is the student the drain. In my opinion, the teacher must make sure that the student learns not only what is out there, but more importantly how to reach to it. The teacher does not tell the student the proper answer; instead, he/she draws from the student the probable answer. I believe that in standing between these two worlds there is a fine line that every responsible teacher needs to maintain. I consider this stance to be an important factor in the development of the students own stance between respect and criticism.

 At the University of Sogang, SEOUL, KOREA, I was responsible for teaching the undergraduate introductory PC lab to a quite diverse class. I played a key role in devising mechanisms for ensuring fairness and indiscriminate treatment across all sessions and over all students. I also served as trainer at INFORMIX CENTER on the advanced class on user interfaces. I contributed significantly to the development of the syllabus, designed assignments and programming projects, and organized and carried out software agent competitions. In developing and teaching a course, I considered the following ingredients necessary and valuable:

  • an up-to-date textbook, serving as the back-bone of the subject being taught,
  • supplemental readings, for discussing the current trends in the field,
  • lectures, as the vehicle for accessing the material effectively,
  • discussion, as a way of developing critical thinking,
  • regular homework and exams, as evaluative feedback and as a safeguard for having all students on the same page, and finally
  • a course project, as an excercise in creativity.

 I also believe that the role as a teacher is one of a servant. Therefore, I think that a teacher should offer three things to my students:

  • to provide appropriate access to resources that allow students to grow academically, professionally and personally,
  • to motivate students to go beyond the simple teacher-learner paradigm and become independent scholars,
  • to assess the progress of students so I can know and accurately represent their abilities and potential.

 My philosophy of teaching is perhaps summed up in just a few words: teaching is most successful when informed by the recognition of its human dimensions. Therefore, my teaching philosophy is founded on two principles. The first is that successful teaching is essentially an interaction rather than a transmission process. The second is that teaching without context is unsound. I believe that we teach best when we connect, as human beings, to our students. In a technical field such as computer science this may be more challenging than in the humanities, but it is no less critical. Without this connection, we are at best lecturing our students (and they may indeed be learning something) but we are not teaching them. The process and outcome of a teaching attempt depend on the persons involved, more than on anything else. However, I do not accept that this necessitates adopting either of those extremes of teaching styles known as "teacher-centred" and "student-centred". I think a case for "subject-centred" teaching, as an alternative to either teacher-centred or student-centred teaching. In this model, which I consider to be highly effective, the instructor and the students are brought together by their common interest in the subject.

In summary, my approach to teaching is to cultivate an active, collaborative, learner-centered classroom, rather than one that is teacher-centered. The benefits of this approach include high student engagement in the classroom, which is likely to increase retention and depth of learning. Additionally, active and collaborative approaches help students to develop the skills necessary for learning and to develop the interpersonal skills for working in the team-oriented engineering workplace.