Philosophy of Teaching Statement

W.B. Yeats speaks to the heart of the matter: “Education is not the filling of a pail, it is the lighting of a flame.” My teaching is informed by this principle. I ignite curiosity and kindle wonder in my students, and give them resources to keep their flame alight, along with ways to manifest their vision. I consider myself to be a midwife to the creative process. I seek to remove obstacles, evoke inspiration and encourage expression. I enjoy all that goes into teaching, from preparing courses and classes, to presenting subjects I am passionate about, to giving feedback to students.

My teaching is shaped by the confluence of two disciplines:

1.     The self-directed learning approach and social conscience from Antioch University, where, steeped in the Liberal Arts, I designed a BA in Mythopoetics and Sacred Ecology and continued on with an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis on Creative Nonfiction and Pedagogy.

2.     The deep holistic awareness of the artistic nature of the human being from Waldorf education, particularly in designing curriculum and teaching creative writing and storytelling for teacher trainees at Sound Circle Center for 14 years.

I integrate these vibrant strands into an original orientation. From my experience at Antioch, I address both the individual and the collective, whereas a Waldorf approach sensitizes me to bring multi-dimensionality into my instruction. Honoring both the artistry and craft of teaching, I draw upon pedagogy ranging from Parker Palmer, MC Richards and Rudolf Steiner, to Wendy Bishop, Peter Levitt, David Starkey and Peter Elbow.  I also carry influences from personal mentoring from Paul Matthews, Terry Tempest Williams, Sharman Apt Russell and Brenda Miller.

Over years of teaching creative writing, my classes have settled into a fairly consistent template. Despite having crafted a lesson plan, I stay open to allowing each class to follow a spark and go in its own direction. I appreciate the dance of spontaneity and structure and how the material comes alive in new ways with each group of students. I work intuitively and adjust what I bring in response to the participants.