Statement of Philosophy

Robert F. Sylvester

The purpose of teaching is to engender a passion for learning on the part of the student and to sustain a passion for teaching on the part of the professional. Effective teaching, at any level, is a passionate art operating in a scientific background.

The values required of an effective teacher embrace not only the need for a mature perspective of human potential but also a willingness to be witness to a personal and a collective struggle for excellence. The effective teacher must be able to model the necessary characteristics of genuine interest, balanced planning and sustained improvement, which are themselves elements of a life-long learner. The effective teacher displays high expectations of self and of the learner and is sensitive to the multi-layered voices and narratives of each and all learners.

Teaching and learning involve a process of discovery where the teacher and the learner, as members of a larger community of learners, engage in the process of self-discovery and self-improvement. No one strategy for teaching or learning can embrace all the teaching styles and all the learning styles appropriate in every teaching and learning situation. However, for teaching to be effective and for learning to be meaningful the aims and strategies of learning must be transparent to the learner. Within the practical limits of the resources available, the teacher is called upon to attend to the learner as being in a state of development and in need of a vision of what may come next in the learning process. The effective teacher must be, at times, coach, mentor, scribe, empathic listener, strategist, collaborator and expert. No one role is sufficient.

The sense of identity which the teacher embraces must acknowledge that the complete development of the individual and the empowerment of a learner's sense of worth depends upon the development of a consciousness in the teacher and in the learner of a personal, a local, and a global sense of identity. These identities must also bear witness to the inherent diversity of perspective which the human species is capable of expressing. In the face of this inherent diversity the teacher is called upon to speak to that which is common in all human cultures. The ability to narrate the story of human unity in diversity is the central task for all teachers and the overall goal for all learners.