Sample Teaching Philosophy: Carrie Brown

Sample Teaching Philosophy: Carrie Brown

Carrie Brown, doctoral student, Missouri School of Journalism

This is perhaps the most exciting time and also the most challenging time to embark on a career of teaching future journalists. In addition to educating students about critically important enduring values, one must also provide students with the capacity to continually learn and adapt. While an education in journalism once largely meant emulating one’s mentors and learning a set of fundamental skills, the current generation will be part of the process of creating the future of news.

The most fundamental aspect of my teaching philosophy involves helping students to develop the critical thinking skills that will help them adapt to change and apply the core values of journalism to their daily work. More than anything else, I believe that it is these skills that will help students succeed not only as journalists but in all aspects of their lives. To achieve this, I strongly encourage open discussion in the classroom and often use case studies to stimulate students to draw their own lessons from what is presented, rather than relying simply on lecture to impart ideas. I continually update my curriculum with current examples from the news, and have learned from experience that effective teaching often requires the utilization of multimedia in the classroom to keep students engaged and focused. I’ve also learned the importance of providing coherent structure and organization, particularly for younger students who have not yet built the cognitive capacities to handle ambiguity without anxiety.

The journalism students of today need not only to develop some technical skills, but also must think through how they can best tell stories using the multimedia options available. Utilizing databases and other technologically sophisticated ways of gathering information will be increasingly important, but so will learning to interact directly with readers in the two-way environment of information sharing online. I give my students a variety of assignments that will challenge them to think in new ways and apply the basic skills they are developing to various media forms.

Any teaching philosophy would be incomplete without attention to the issue of diversity. I make time to talk to my students about the importance of open communication and respect for those who differ from themselves not only demographically but also in terms of their ideas, interests and experiences.

Finally and most importantly, I am deeply committed to fostering a relationship of compassion and trust with my students. There have always been and always will be some students who do not come ready or willing to learn, but I have found that the vast majority of them will rise to meet high expectations when these are established in an environment of mutual respect. I believe that it is part of my job to engage students in the subject, showing them not only why journalism is important, but also how it can be interesting – and even fun. Although my students learn quickly that hard work is expected of them, I also try to understand the kinds of pressures they find themselves under and work one-on-one with students who face significant barriers to learning, including things like serious illnesses and full-time jobs. Teaching has been the most rewarding aspect of my experience as a graduate student thus far, and I am looking forward to continuing to learn and build skills in this area throughout my career.