[ Philosophisches Seminar | Arbeitsbereich Praktische Philosophie ]

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JGU Mainz
Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz
Department "Ethics & Anthropology"


Teaching style
Main areas of interest
German Literature
Theory of Knowledge

Statement of Teaching Style


I am teaching my students to be critical, self-confident individuals who are able to find and sustain their position in the modern information-focused knowledge society. The students learn to believe in the powers of their critical judgment rather than in the persuasion strategies of medially efficient opinion leaders. Regardless whether I am teaching German as a foreign language to primary students at school, theory of knowledge to upper secondary students or giving philosophy courses to under- or postgraduates at the University – the final aim of my teaching is always not to impart knowledge but to educate critical individuals.


My experience as a teacher and professor, my studies of psychology of learning (ancient and contemporary) and last not least my own experiences as a language learner have led me to believe that a learner-focused approach has to stand at the beginning of any theoretical inquiry: The learner, not the teacher stands in the center of the learning process – this simple basic principle, as trivial as it may sound, marks the first and most crucial insight of my self-understanding as a teacher. Three of my highest practical teaching imperatives (this term understood in a Kantian way) derive from this sentence:
(1) Respect
Every student has to be respected and valued regardless of individual skills or performance in class. Respect is a claim and a gift that works both ways: a teacher who does not respect her or his students will never be respected by them. This means that expectations have to be stated clearly but the teacher has to meet the same high moral and professional standards. This also means that every student is supported according to her or his needs and that all students are expected to participate equally in class.
(2) Transparency
The learning process needs to be transparent. This means the students need to be able to answer two questions at any stage of the learning process: (1) What exactly is it that we are learning in this moment? This avoids working on self-sufficient structures and work sheets that do not serve a well-defined purpose. (2) Why are we learning this? What is the relevance of this structure or question? These questions do not need to be asked or answered explicitly. In the best case, the task of teaching should make it clear to the students at any time.
(3) Autonomous learner
The learners must be as autonomous as possible. Wherever possible, they should find out by themselves what they need to learn. That requires a lot of preparation on the teacher’s part. The teacher’s duty is to create a stimulating learning environment free of anxiety. She or he prepares, directs and moderates the learning process which is conducted, experienced and – in the best case – arranged by the learners themselves. This way, students will be able not only to remember the structures but also to use them in new and different contexts.


In order to achieve these aims, I engage a large diversity of teaching methods. Especially in language learning, methods have to be engaged according to the aim of each lesson. I believe that every method has its benefits and drawbacks; therefore it is not advantageous to abide by one method. Nevertheless, there are a two teaching principles that I always try to follow.
Maieutic method in the class room
One of the oldest practic teaching principles derives from ancient Greek philosophy. Socrates’ “maieutic” method aims to bring to the learner’s consciousness what she or he already knows. By asking the students the right questions, the teacher makes them aware of what they already know. This way, students learn not only how important it is only how to ask the right questions. They also learn to trust in the own critical judgment. In teaching German as a foreign language, the teacher should create a learning environment in which the students learn mostly by interacting which each other.
Arouse and display curiosity
We only learn what we really, intrinsically want to learn. The contemporary psychology is talking about “affective filters” that enable or disable us to adopt new learning matter. But actually, there is no need to become so theoretical. Everybody knows how hard it is to learn something that does not really interest us. Therefore, a good teacher should always be able to bring and display his own interest and curiosity to class. Learning must be a way of discovery learning in which the teachers should always set a good example.


[ Philosophisches Seminar | Arbeitsbereich Praktische Philosophie ]

Last Update: October 24, 2012