I believe that the pursuit of social justice is at the root of all social work practice and education. Students of social work are primarily concerned with dealing with issues of oppression and marginalization and taking a systems view toward social problems. Therefore, as a teacher, I have tried to utilize an anti-oppressive framework to undergird both my teaching content and approach. My teaching philosophy also draws heavily on the powerful ideas laid down by Paulo Freire (1996). Influenced by Freire’s (1996) philosophy that meaningful education requires a synthesis of critical reflection and action, I have always been very much invested in creating a learning environment in which students can dialogue and engage in praxis (theory integrated with practice) while keeping in mind their own complex identities, personal experiences, and privilege, which provide powerful sources of knowledge.
I have tried to fulfill the following learning objectives in applying my teaching philosophy:
1. Encourage students to approach their learning through a critical lens and unpack intersecting systems of racism, sexism, classism, etc. in approaching social issues.
2. Center their education and practice around creating an equitable social system by tackling the underlying social injustices that pervade our society.
3. Enable students to reach out beyond the academic literature and seek multiple sources of knowledge (especially from the communities in which they work) to expand their reasoning and become holistic learners.