There’s an ancient Hindu belief that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. In my work as a teacher I have found the opposite to be true too. While most people who study for a PhD teach when they finish their studies (and often times even before) when I embarked on my advanced studies, teaching was not necessarily my ultimate goal. What has attracted me to teaching has been the quest for knowledge I’ve seen in students’ eyes in relation to the topics I have specialized in: performance and new media.
My first teaching experiences were with teenage boys in Malta, where I taught Media Studies and Theatre-in-Education. For a while it seemed that the two subjects were on opposite poles of the creativity spectrum, but through my studies (and the advent of the Internet as a popular medium in its own right) I came to realize that there’s a need for good courses which bring the two fields together.
What follows is a summary of my teaching philosophy:
My objectives as a teacher are:
- to share acquired knowledge with my students
- to help students find their own voice as they search for their own perspectives on the topic at hand
- to discover new perspectives about my areas of expertise though my work with the students
I certainly want my students to learn the fundamental content of the courses I teach. But beyond that, I also want to foster critical thinking, facilitate the acquisition of life-long learning skills, prepare students to function effectively in an information economy, and develop problem-solving strategies. This applies to all students, even if the responsibilty relationship varies depending on the academic level of the students.
The methods I use to achieve or work toward those objectives include learning by doing; this is often possible to some degree or other in both performance and new media courses. Since my areas of expertise cover live performance and media technology, I use theories from both to make the other subject more accessible, depending on the students’ context of study. Performance classes are introduced to the use of information technology for sharing knowledge and resources, while my courses in new media will most likely always include the application of performance theory or aesthetic practice in some way or other.
Performance Studies allows us to embrace all sorts of phenomena which can be studied as performance. The field of New Media is one such example. However, New Media is also directly concerned with performing as such. My ultimate goal as a teacher is to make new media accessible to students of performance, and propose performance as an conceptual framework for people working in new media.