Philosophy of teaching

 “University needs more this kind of teaching that teaches you to think.” (Student feedback)

“With his enthusiasm and expertise, the teacher aroused in me a profound interest in political thinking.” (Student feedback)

It is very rare to find lectures, where lecturer proves pedagogically with his grip and style, how the subject taught is an inseparable part of him. (Student feedback)

In his famous lecture on Wissenschaft als Beruf Max Weber stated that in “the lecture-rooms of the university no other virtue holds but plain intellectual honesty” and I fully agree with it.

I am also convinced that the good academic teacher must have a vocation or calling for both research and teaching and profound desire to communicate to the students both his own research as also the core issues and problems of his discipline. If the teacher does not have this enthusiasm, even the best teaching techniques cannot help him to create a fertile spirit of teaching.

Above all, the academic teacher must not underestimate his students or their abilities but must believe in their own yearning to learn even difficult things. For me, the ethics as the ethos of teaching means trying to stir up in students an enthusiasm for learning, as also courage to know.

Yet this should not mean leaving students to study independently by themselves using the values of independence and self-education as excuses for lack of proper instruction and expertise on the side of the teacher.

Unfortunately, there is a tendency in pedagogical sciences to overvalue the independent team working of students and different “creative” teaching methods, yet at the same time undervaluing the substantial expertise of the teacher. Yet, before students can do teamwork or learn through common discussions, they must have some substance to discuss and nothing is so frustrating than a teacher who has nothing substantial to say or communicate to the students. In this respect, I do not think that even the old model of expert lecturing is bygone teaching method. At least students themselves do not despise it, but quite, on the contrary, appreciate it and expected it in the higher education. Of course, seminars, discussions, and teamwork support more active learning, yet also these require the guidance of the knowable teacher and his comments.

Personally, I have practised blended teaching, where expert lecturing is blended with self-studying and discussion groups, as also the lecture hall is blended with the different digital and social learning environments. All my lecture courses are based on my own research and teaching materials. To the courses, I had also included digital learning environments and demands of independent textual research done by students and so my teaching combines lectures, teamwork, discussions groups and independent research.

Nonetheless, the specific virtues of teaching are not be found from technologies or different digital environments. Instead, these virtues are born from the practical experience of teaching itself, which includes also the self-learning by the teacher himself. I have select the methods and subjects of my teaching in the light of the criteria of how I myself would want to be taught and my teaching is an integral part of my research.

Teaching includes always transmission of information and yet it should not be understood only as sharing or passing information but as arousing the will to know. Furthermore, in our information society, there is no lack of information per se but rather profound need to learn to analyse, scrutinize and manage knowledge as to have critical abilities to question the forms and substance of given information. And still, the most important thing is at all times the will to knowledge. For you cannot teach people, who do not want to learn. As it is also impossible to teach those that already know everything that, they “need to know.” The good teacher had to have the ability to inspire the student to seek after new knowledge and different ways of thinking.

I have tried to inspire students to think and develop their conceptual skills in analysing and problematizing things. I encourage students to express freely their opinions, yet at the same time teaching them that expressing one’s own opinion is not the same as thinking through concepts and does not yet tell anything about one’s ability to conceptualize things.

This difference between opinion and concepts is especially significant in political sciences. For the teacher of political science cannot teach students his own political opinions or judge and evaluate students according to their political opinions. He can only try to teach them to analyse and conceptualize politics.

I have attempted to inspire students to think and learn and in the light of the student feedback, it seems that I have mainly succeeded in this.

 ⇒  Practical experience in teaching