Across time, philosophy has offered help with the great task of understanding the mystery a living and thinking being is apt to find themselves in. For me, I’ve taken into mind and practice different philosophies, even faiths, within my own quest to understand myself, others, and our places within the world around us.

What I’ve come to find is that for myself it is quality, meaning, and being able to answer the big why of things that matter most. The merit of many things can often be measured by its contextual relationships and when it comes to my teaching philosophy I am concerned less with gogies or similar jargon and more with the learner’s relational experience as “a hero’s journey”. How I can aid that hero’s journey with positive transformation as the prize is what I seek to achieve for students and myself.

Huxley’s Doors

Regarding design, my philosophy is all about process and is very similar to the double diamond framework. To simplify the process, I’ve created a holistic acronym to simply the process as dip which is better seen as ddiipp. While not necessarily linear, a sequential approach tends to yield the strongest results.

ddiipp (dip)

Step 1
Define to Design

This is about 5W+1 (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How). It’s also about understanding, researching, discovering, interviewing, and actively listening to best define all aspects of a problem (project) before attempting any solution. This step is where collaboration begins as it is most often those who we design for and with who hold the keys to unlocking the most powerful solutions and outcomes.

You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people. Design is made for people

Dieter Rams

Step 2
Ideate to Iterate

Once the intellectual and emotional understanding of the problem (and constraints) is well understood, it’s time to research similar solutions, brainstorm, and mind-map ideas through visual thinking (sketches, doodles, drawings, mood-boards) and experimentation as iterations which naturally leads to the next step.

Step 3
PROduce to PROsent

This is where the 10,000 hours of honing a skill and craft become essential. While creating the ideas generated from steps one and two, experimentation, adjustment, and changes (sometimes completely) happen as the creative mind takes over to playfully create effectively viable solutions. S.C.A.M.P.E.R. and A.I.D.A are both good models to consider in this phase. Once the viable solution and iterations are PROduced it is time to share this with the key stakeholders for approval or revisions (collaboration is key). The art and importance of the presentation should not be underestimated as this is can mean the difference between life or death of an idea to the outside world, but then again, there’s always the option to recycle, compost, or reuse when possible.

Teaching is another story…

When it comes to teaching, I utilize a related but separate philosophy. In my own experience, teaching is one of the most challenging and vulnerable things I have ever done. In ways, it is also one of the most rewarding things I will have done. I believe learning can be experienced in the same ways (challenging & rewarding). My teaching philosophy is meant to help me remember the essence of the task at hand and the obstacles to overcome in order to achieve successful outcomes.

A Simple* Teaching Philosophy

1. Know Yourself

2. Know the Content

3. Know the Student

4. Be the Bridge


Step 1
Know Yourself

In first knowing yourself you must first know your own abilities and limitations in order to best define what, when and how you can offer value to others. Knowing one’s self is a daily task. It is mental and physical. It is what I know and what I don’t know.

Step 2
Know the Content

Knowing the content means putting in your 10,000 hours and then some given the pace of change in many fields and modern life itself. An ever-curious mind (creative play) and healthy apatite for learning anew is a must in the life of a deeply knowledgable yet adaptable teacher.

Step 3
Know the student(s)

Knowing my students individually and collectively is to understand their goals, strengths, and obstacles. My goal is to challenge students in a way that stimulates them with curiosity to dream and grow without overwhelming them. To do this I must know my students in ways that allow them to trust me to walk on the bridge I will soon ask them to traverse. Empathy is key here as knowing my students (and them knowing me) allows me to empathetically teach in ways that best facilitate their own personal growth and transformation.

Step 4
Be the bridge

Being a bridge is to become a gateway of connection between the student, their goals, my and others’ knowledge, and the content’s ability to empower them forward in their journey. As stated by Parker J. Palmer in The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life “Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves.”

If you are so inclined, take a look-see at some projects I’ve created or contributed to within and outside of these philosophies.