About Michelle M. Ballou, MS
PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING
“Thoroughly to teach another is the best way to learn for yourself.” Tyron Edwards
“To teach is to learn twice.” Joseph Joubert
Beliefs about the Nature of Teaching and Learning
The quotes printed above nicely summarize my beliefs about the true nature of teaching and learning. I believe teaching and learning is a mutual process in which the student and teacher learn from each other. The student can be challenged by the teacher and the teacher can likewise be challenged by the student.
I believe we were created by God to be curious, to question, and to learn from one another. Consider the young child who constantly asks “why” and “how” and who is in awe of the world around him. From the beginning we were given a sense of curiosity and I sometimes ponder the potential we all could have if we maintained that level of curiosity throughout our lives.
I believe teaching and learning is a circular process in which the learner obtains information from the teacher, processes the information, and then provides feedback to the teacher indicating their level of understanding or misunderstanding. The teacher then evaluates the feedback and provides more information to the learner to facilitate further understanding. I believe it is possible for this circular process to occur many times before complete comprehension occurs. I also believe this is a multidimensional process where the student learns from the teacher, and the teacher learns from the student. In other words, this circular process can occur over and over while both student and teacher are moving to increasingly complex levels of understanding. I like the description of the learning paradigm as described by Billings and Halstead, 2009, p. 189, in which learning is a collaborative enterprise where the teacher is senior learner and the student is junior learner.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he describes duties of the Lord’s servant which I believe helps illustrate the true nature of teaching. II Timothy 2:24 (RSV) says, “and the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness….”. Though these words were meant for each of us who lives in Christ, I believe these are qualities the teacher should embrace and which should guide the teaching-learning process. Christ was the ultimate teacher who taught others through His example and through His acceptance of them no matter what their background or lot in life.
Role of Student
I believe the role of the student as a learner is seeker of knowledge and understanding. The student should have a passion for obtaining new knowledge and building upon current knowledge. I believe true learning does not occur until the student takes some level of responsibility for their own learning. According to Billings and Halstead, 2009, p. 190, “learning is self-active; it can be accomplished only by the learner”. I believe the student should strive to comprehend information, not merely memorize it for purposes of fulfilling objectives. The student should recognize the information which they find difficult to grasp and ask for clarification. The student should not expect me, the teacher, to “read their mind” when they do not understand something. The student should be receptive to constructive criticism and use it to improve/increase their learning and should use failures as opportunities for growth. Students should be respectful towards me, other instructors, and other students.
Role of Teacher
I believe the role of teacher is dispenser of knowledge and facilitator of understanding. I believe the pursuit of knowledge and increased understanding should be lifelong endeavors for the teacher. As the teacher, I should provide a non-judgmental and caring atmosphere in which questions are welcomed. I should attempt to be discerning of students’ lack of understanding and adjust teaching methods accordingly. In order to provide the most accurate information to students, I should continually gather new knowledge myself. I should acknowledge when I do not know something and should strive to find answers so as to be an example to students of true learning. I should make expectations clear and should be open to criticism. I should use criticism to guide and improve my teaching skills.
Value of Profession/Importance of Nursing to Society
I believe nursing is essential to the maintenance of health and achievement of wholeness within individuals of society. Healthcare is constantly changing as are the healthcare demands of society. I believe the nursing profession will play a growing role in the provision of healthcare as the expectations of society continue to increase. I believe the profession of nursing provides a unique perspective to healthcare in that emphasis is placed on looking at the individual as a whole affected by various external and internal factors. I also believe nurses are prepared to perform in a wide range of healthcare settings and are able to fulfill many healthcare roles.
Value of Education/Importance of Education in Nursing
I believe education in nursing is of utmost importance. Education prepares nurses to confront multifaceted problems. Nursing, along with all healthcare professions, is constantly evolving and changing. I believe new nurses as well as experienced nurses must keep abreast of these changes. For this reason, I believe nurses should consider learning to be an ongoing process throughout their careers. I believe high educational standards and the use of educational methods which promote critical thinking and problem solving will increase the value and esteem placed on nurses by preparing them to adapt and respond to complex healthcare situations.
Environment in which Teaching/Learning Occurs
I believe teaching and learning can occur in almost any environment or in any situation as long as the teacher shows respect for the learner and passion for the pursuit of knowledge. I believe teaching/learning occurs most successfully in an atmosphere that is caring and non-judgmental, where questions are received with enthusiasm, where student’s opinions are valued, where critical thinking is encouraged, and where the teacher is flexible and can admit when they are wrong. Finally, I believe the learner must view the material being learned as relevant or applicable to their life or future endeavors.
Goal of Teaching
The goal I wish to achieve in teaching is to increase the knowledge and understanding of those I teach. I would want those I teach to be able to use the information I have taught them to evaluate and solve problems in their lives and future careers. My goal would also be for students to truly understand what I have taught them so they can apply what they have learned to real life situations. I would like to prepare future generations to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex society and promote individualistic thinking in order to increase the experimentation and research that leads to new discoveries. It would be of great satisfaction to me if I were able to inspire students to internalize a love for learning. Finally, it would be my goal to establish confidence, self-respect, integrity, and humility in those I teach.
Billings, D.M. & Halstead, J.A. (2009). Teaching in nursing: A guide for faculty. (3rd ed.).
Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders Company.