"Ideas (which themselves are but part of our experience) become true just insofar as they help us to get into satisfactory relation with other parts of our experience."
--William James, Pragmatism
"In a half-dozen classrooms they gather . . . Nothing new here, no time-saving devices--simply old time-glorified methods of delving for Truth, and searching out the hidden beauties of life, and learning the good of living . . . And this course of study will not change; its methods will grow more deft and effectual, its content richer by toil of scholar and sight of seer; but the true college will ever have one goal--not to earn meat, but to know the end and aim of that life which meat nourishes.
--W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
My teaching philosophy draws on the idea—theorized most famously by American Pragmatist philosophers William James and John Dewey—that the acquisition of knowledge occurs through the always-ongoing negotiation between our intimate experience of a world that is constantly changing and the shared ideas we use to understand and act in it. It is therefore only by bringing our fundamentally unique interpretation, whether of a text or of the world itself, into dialogue with the interpretations and perspectives of others that we gain a better sense of the world we inhabit together. I therefore encourage plentiful dialogue and debate as well as an engagement with a diverse array of readings in order to expand each student’s interpretive and analytical skills so that they are better able to synthesize ideas and interact with their peers in the collective quest for knowledge and understanding.
I talk about my teaching more in the podcasts I've posted.