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:
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
The learning process needs to
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?
working on self-sufficient structures and work sheets that do not serve
well-defined purpose. (2) Why are we
learning this? What is the relevance of this structure or question?
questions do not need to be asked or answered explicitly. In the best
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.
the students the right questions, the teacher makes them aware of what
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.