“Thinking is an action... thoughts are the laboratory where one goes to pose questions and find answers… Across the boundaries of race, class, gender, and circumstance, children come into the world of wonder and language consumed with a desire for knowledge."
― Bell Hooks, Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom
Thinking is an action
Learning, and thinking, are active verbs that students engage in, not something that teachers do to them. I have come to recognize teaching and learning to be an active and evolving conversation. I find it most effective and productive to engage the students in debates, open conversations and personal reflection. This approach leads to class discussions where students share their own insights and critical perspectives. When the students take a more active role and more responsibility for their learning, they understand the material more deeply and retain more of it following the class. I want my students to discover the knowledge for themselves, instead of me simply covering the material and I want them to leave my classroom empowered to form their own opinions about the issues at hand.
Thoughts are the laboratory
My approach to teaching is informed by my process for conducting research. I believe that college classes, and the knowledge shared, should focus on nurturing critical and creative thought. Classes are an opportunity to train future researchers in statistics (not rote memorization of a formula, but a deep understanding of the principles involved) and strong practices in study design, with an emphasis on generalizable and replicable science. I aim to highlight the various controversies in the field, emphasizing the invigorating and dynamic nature of the scientific process (i.e., as opposed to a static series of facts). I also often aim to incorporate current events into my teaching, ensuring that the material is constantly evolving and that the students are able to connect the course objectives to their own lives and knowledge.
Across the boundaries
In order to foster conversation in my lectures, it is vital to validate all of the students' unique perspectives, allowing for a safe and open environment. Not only does this encourage involvement but it also ends up leading to more nuanced and thought-provoking conversations (both for me and the students). I aim to continue to be supportive, kind, engaged and open-minded. This open and safe conversation structure is what I plan to encompass in all my future teaching appointments. To help foster a community of diverse perspectives and inclusion at New York University, I was the student coordinator for New York University's Summer Research Program (2021). This involved organizing a variety of events, including graduate student panels, a multiday R workshop, private mentoring, and a CV workshop. This program prioritizes creating community and providing mentorship for members of minority racial and ethnic groups, LGBTQ+, first-generation students, those with disabilities, and people experiencing economic hardships. Along with practical research skills, the participants learned how to apply for PhD programs and about the graduate student experience.