Statement of Teaching Philosophy

I strive for teaching that becomes an opportunity to inspire and empower. As a teacher, I see myself as a messenger of knowledge and as a co-learner. I believe that in my classrooms transformative learning can take place when the boundaries between teacher and learner are blurred, and through a dialogical mode, new epistemologies are created.

In my teaching I adopt a social-emancipatory/planetary view. Promoting an understanding that social and political forces shape the construction and utilization of knowledge is central to my pedagogy because it helps students sharpen critical thinking skills and enables them to break through epistemological limitations.

Although I believe all education is ultimately self-education, which is to say, the students must take responsibility for their learning, a teacher also has the responsibility to inspire the desire to learn. In other words, a teacher must sufficiently stir up the students to think and act critically in their learning communities and society at large.

I come to class prepared and expect the same from my students. Mutual respect between teacher and student is paramount in my paradigm. In this pedagogical sphere, therefore, it is crucial for me to cultivate learning partnerships with my students. I recognize, and value greatly, the agency in the students, which is essential for transformative learning to take place. Furthermore, in higher education, a teacher must acknowledge learners’ prior knowledge and experiences.

I firmly believe in integral education, and practice transdisciplinarity. For me there is no clear break between natural science and social science, or between social science and politics, or between politics, philosophy and literature (including poetry). I posit that culture is teleological. All areas of culture are parts of the same integrated entity for the purpose of making peoples lives better. Therefore, culture must be studied and examined with a critical lens.

Accordingly, for me, there is no deep split between theory and practice. If theory cannot be practiced, then it is only wordplay. Theory must inform practice. The academy must be part of the community and vice versa. Therefore in my teaching I intend to foster an environment where learners generate theories that can be practiced towards social change.

Finally, I believe in perpetual inquiry. I pursue a pedagogy that treats inquiry for the purpose of achieving understanding and agreement among human beings about what to do to make this planet a better place to live-for all of its inhabitants. If an inquiry looks into the possibility of balancing of powers, the inquiry should be about generating original theories that can be practiced to make changes in the power structures. Inquiry should be progressive. Education should be planetary and progressive. 

Tony Kashani