Richard Victor Esvang

Pedagogical Statement

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Teaching Philosophy

I take a holistic approach to instruction that speaks to the mind, body and heart. It is important that I teach students how to learn and that learning is not just an intake of information it is about experiencing instruction. This begins with students learning to think critically and to exercise a strong emotional intelligence. These skills provide students with real life skills to confront and manage self-consciousness and insecurity. Two major blocks that impede self-discovery and slows down cooperative learning, which is how, students learn to synthesize instruction. Critical thinking and emotional intelligence help students to understand and find great satisfaction working within and contributing to a group. Primarily, I want to provide students with a robust cognitive framework from which they can scaffold toward deeper insights and most importantly, feel empowered to exercise creative and original thinking. 

 

The student in the classroom is not an empty vessel it is instead a complete person with a personal and familial history that plays an important part in how they learn. Jean Piaget, who was the first psychologist to do a systematic study of cognitive development, concluded that we inherit a particular method of functioning, a manner of thinking. It is not that we inherit what we think, but how we think. Therefore, several types of teaching strategies might need to be employed to reach that student. That is why I prefer a multimodal instructional method as it allows me to use various pathways toward presenting an idea or a larger concept. I have found that this strategy not only works in a traditional lecture/classroom setting but also is very effective in a kinesthetic-like setting such as an acting class. 

 

I augment my instructional method by creating learning environments that are free of favoritism, needless competition and actively encourage an atmosphere where students are supportive of each other, where risk is honored and where they have the permission to fail. This is important for my overall pedagogical process because studies have shown that college age students still do not have a fully developed prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that coordinates higher-order cognitive processes and executive functioning. Executive functions are a set of supervisory cognitive skills needed for goal-directed behavior, including planning, response inhibition, working memory, and attention. These skills allow an individual to pause long enough to take stock of a situation, assess options, plan a course of action, and execute it. Poor executive functioning leads to difficulty with planning, attention, using feedback, and mental inflexibility, all of which undermine judgment and decision making. Therefore, it only stands to reason, that a learning environment, which promotes a process of equanimity, focuses the student on to the task at hand because they are not being misdirected by self-esteem issues or any hierarchical tribalism. Building a healthy self-esteem, learning the importance of being accountable and responsible to each other are real tools of intelligence, and they need to be practiced for a student to move on toward higher ordered thinking. This is what I am passionate about this positive process-based learning. I care deeply for the mind-body health of all my students.  

 

I am always looking to improve my teaching. I rely on observations and critiques from my colleagues, I observe my faculty members in class and, of course, I think deeply how best to assess the students learning that in turn is a tool to gauge of my effectiveness. In the end, I want students to reach their creative potential, and I want to deliver to the world a graduate who will be a lifelong learner, an engaged citizen, and an empathetic human being.