Question. Explore. Engage.
My teaching philosophy lies closely with my museum administrator philosophy. In both areas, I do not see the teacher or the administrator as the dictator who points out what to learn and how to learn it. Rather, in these positions, I am a facilitator creating an experience that allows my students to do three things: question, explore, and engage. Utilizing experiential learning practices, object-based learning methods, and visual thinking strategies, I strive for a shared experience focused on process, rather than results, and discussion, rather than lecture. I see the context of a student, i.e. their experiences and knowledge prior to, during, and after our time together in a class environment, as key to creating a learning atmosphere. It is through engagement of the student’s context that he/she/they are able to learn in any environment. It is my role to support my student in finding his/her/their voice through questioning, exploring, and engaging during our time together in a course.
For example, in the past, when I have worked with an Academic Excellence Seminar, I designed a class day in which we sit, together, in front of a work of art and students are encouraged to participate in discussion through the three main questions of Visual Thinking Strategies: what’s going on? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find? These open-ended questions allow for discussion based on prior knowledge and building up confidence speaking in the classroom setting. Through this method students realize the value of their contributions to academic discussions regardless of their prior knowledge and/or background.
I teach for two primary reasons: 1) to contribute to the intellectual growth in the museum field, and 2) to engage in the learning process, gaining new perspectives on areas of interest. My objectives as a teacher are primarily to foster critical thinking and develop problem-solving strategies in an increasingly visual society. Thus, my focus on the three pronged process of questioning our subject, exploring our topic, and engaging with our findings throughout all courses developed.
Given my background and experiences I am prepared to teach courses in museum studies and arts administration. Through readings, close-looking, and written exercises, I hope to challenge students to slow down and create an atmosphere allowing for informed discussion based on definitive details. For instance, in my Winter Term course entitled Introduction to Museum Studies, we focused each day on a different aspect of the museum administration process: spaces and structure, marketing, funding, education, collections, exhibitions, etc. Through readings, museum visits, and discussion, the students were able to grasp not only the history and present of the museum as a field, but also gain a functional knowledge of how museums actually operate on a daily basis. At the end of the 4-week intensive course, each student presented a case study of a museum encountering an issue in one of our areas of discussion. Through their own guided research, we ended up being able to discuss multiple facets of museum administration and how the issues presented either could have been avoided or how the museum could move forward: something we as administrators have to constantly be thinking about as well.
Collaboration and mutual respect are key aspects of the learning environment I create. I wish for my students to feel not only comfortable in our class, but also valued in what they each bring to myself and other students. I see every encounter with students as a new experience dedicated to learning and growth in the museum/arts administration field. With each voice comes perspective, new understanding, and increased value. Focused on social cognition, I try to create a learning environment that enhances the student experience in the museum field through educated questioning, determined exploration, and dedicated engagement. These are the tools that will prepare future generations of museum administrators.