David A. Skelton

PhD, Religions of Western Antiquity, FSU

Socrates famously used two metaphors to describe his role of a teacher: gadfly (Apology) and a midwife (Theaetetus). I find both metaphors appropriate in describing my teaching philosophy. The gadfly metaphor emphasizes the teacher's role in challenging student's assumptions as well as helping them use new modes of thinking to examine critically what they have read and to ask new questions about familiar material. The midwife metaphor emphasizes the teacher's role in actively attending to students development and being  a partner during the course of their academic journey. While the knowledge and expertise of the teacher is still paramount, in this pedagogical model the teacher primarily serves as an intellectual mentor and guide, helping students move from simpler to more complex level of understanding. Overall, these metaphors accentuate the importance of intellectual freedom and self-discovery alongside acquisition of knowledge and dovetail with recent studies that suggest the importance of peer-led discussions and active learning in the process of cognitive development. 

I am committed to creating an environment of empathy and listening in which both students and professor work together towards critical reflection. My main goal as professor is to foster trusting relationships and honest dialogue so that students feel comfortable questioning their own assumptions, the classroom material, the professor, and even the role of education in creating cultural conformity. Through such a classroom dynamic, I hope to facilitate conscious thought and actions as students begin to "know themselves" in relation to the wider world.