Educational Profile - Ari Najarian

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    Educational Profile - Ari Najarian
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Philosophy & Pedagogy


      My teaching philosophy closely reflects my research framework, which in turn reflects my own formative experiences as a teacher and student. I make a distinction in my students between the social individual and the private self: in my role as a teacher, I interact with a plurality of social individuals in a social space (e.g. the classroom). However, as a truly effective teacher, my mission is to reach beyond the teacher-student binary and impact my students as private individuals. By challenging students' popular conceptions of a teacher, and their own expected behaviours as students, I try to re-negotiate the teacher-student relationship: the teacher as learner or mentor, the student as coeval complement.
      Just as the roles and behaviours of teachers and students must be re-negotiated, I believe the learning process itself must be reinterpreted and redefined. Learning may involve acquiring archival information, practical skills and good working habits, but divorced from a greater context these acquisitions do not, in my mind, stand in place of education. The greatest thing I can do for my students is to teach them how to learn, that is, how to approach a problem or situation with the intent of understanding it on its own terms. A student who has learned how to learn can confront and overcome any problem, whether academic or personal. My role is to help them create this framework for themselves, by challenging those premises and conceptions that may obscure its importance.


      My teaching method is simply an application and extension of my philosophy. I contend that the interactions between students and teachers, as popularly concieved, do not readily provide the optimal conditions for a meaningful educational exchange. This is further compounded by a host of socially constructed problems: the arrangement of a classroom, the compartmentalization of grades, the abstraction of subjects in the curriculum, etc. all conspire against the possibility of a universal frame of reference. While, as a teacher, many of these factors may be beyond my control, there are equally many in which my students and I can exercise some agency.
      To invoke my own term, my teaching style must strive to challenge, deconstruct and reconstitute those socially constructed boundaries that exist in popular educational discourse. There are hundreds of ways in which this theme can inform one's pedagogy: restructuring the physical environment of a classroom to encourage a more equitable exchange, collaborating with students in other grades to overcome age boundaries, applying concepts from one subject to another to challenge curricular divisions, and so on. To me, a significant part of teaching is breaking down such boundaries and restructuring them in a manner better-suited to the educational process. Once this context is achieved, the possibilities for exchange are limitless.

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