Teaching Philosophy and Courses

As an Environmental Science teacher, I see my primary role as that of offering a safe place for students to explore the relational nature of life. My approach is experiential and inquiry base.

Rather than professing, my goal is to set the table, i.e., to create the conditions wherein learning might occur. I draw inspiration from D. L. Finkel (Teaching with your Mouth Shut), David Orr (Earth in Mind), N. Postman and C. Weingartner (Teaching as a Subversive Activity), Parker Palmer (The Courage to Teach), J. T. Gatto (Dumbing us Down), Ron Miller (What are Schools for?), Brent Cameron (Self Design), Daniel Greenberg (Free at Last), Matt Hern (Field Day), among others.

After all is said and done, I teach who I am. How can it be otherwise, really? Of course, this begs the question: Who am I? My answer: I, just like my students, am a unique and mysterious manifestation of a wondrous universe. This means that just like the universe, day-by-day, I am a "being becoming." Indeed, we are all "beings becoming" and what we become is determined, to a significant degree, by our awareness, our presence, our awakeness. So it is that I am committed, in my teaching, to creating the conditions that nurture the awakening of mind-body-spirit. In the end, I challenge myself to be real in the classroom by "steering into the curve."

The most basic course I teach, BiSci 3 (which I refer to as "Awaken 101"), is divided into three parts. In the first part I guide students to consider the ways in which they are vitally and viscerally connected to Earth. In effect, I invite them to fall in love with their "First Mother," the living Earth that nurtures them. Then, in Part II, I guide students in examining the health and overall well being of their First Mother. In the process, students discover that Earth, the beloved, is ailing. Finally, in Part III, I provide the conditions for students to begin to fashion their personal responses to what they have learned. Throughout this course, students engage in a series of Field Studies that are instrumental to the awakening process.

A second course I sometimes teach is Experiential Human Ecology. In this course, I help students explicitly explore what it means to be born as a human being. They do this by engaging in Field Studies that enable them to experience all the phases of the human life cycle from birth through death.

Field Ecology, is a third course I sometimes teach. This course is designed for students who are Ecology majors. The first half of this course centers on the art and practice of natural history research. The second part focuses on the ecological crisis and, specifically, on sustainable approaches to living on Earth. As with the preceding courses, learning activities are grounded in Field Studies.