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Mr. Albert Farr, B.S., M.A., Ph.D.


Mr. Albert Farr, B.S., M.A., Ph.D.
Campus
St. Pete/Gibbs Campus
Location
LA 110
Title
Chair, Communications
Email
Farr.Albert@spcollege.edu
Phone
(727) 341-4369


 

Teaching Philosophy

 

As a current English Instructor with St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg Florida, I often look back my experiences at other universities and colleges as well as my experiences as a student and reevaluate or reform my teaching philosophies. From these experiences I have always returned to defining the balancing fulcrum of classroom instruction as being the student’s experience. Though Louise Rosenblatt’s idea of reader-response seems to be the primary tool of assessment in contemporary times, I suggest that learning, especially in the discipline of English, demands a more diverse and grounded learning curve to determine the value of education from the student’s perspective. It is because of this delicate balance of freedom of expression and genre standards that provide a unique perspective of teaching English at the community college.

 

Primarily, providing a resource for the community is key to the success of the community college as well as the promotion of scholarship by its instructors. I believe that instructors are not exempt from promoting the mission to our open-enrollment institutions.  By providing an alternative to traditional four-year colleges, open-enrollment colleges allow for a more intimate and personal degree of instruction. I believe that every instructor who chooses to accept a position in an open-enrollment institution should herald this ideology and promote it at every turn. Whether the instructor provides supplemental instruction for students or takes part in student organizations on campus, each instructor should bear the responsibility for promoting a learning environment that is instrumental in scholarship as well as community involvement.

 

In the discipline of English, there are certain expectations that an effective instructor should also promote. Because of the evolving nature of the English language, very few aspects of the discipline are standard. Outside of grammatical structure, the interpretative and analytical nature of English composition, literature and creative writing is often times very subjective and based in personal experiences and cultures. Because of the very personal attribute of this discipline, the environment in which it is discussed should be conducive to the unbridled expressions that are sometimes very intimate in group discussions as well as essays. An English instructor should recognize and adapt the environment to accommodate such expressions. A proctor could easily provide not only traditional examples of analytic writing or artistic expressions through literature, but they should also explore contemporary authentic expressions of artifacts for analysis to provide a more grounded perspective of very abstract ideas and methods of study. By employing more familiar pedagogical tools such as exploring the internet, incorporating social media,  interpreting the rhetoric of popular cultural icons and offering autonomous group presentations, a strong dynamic relationship will develop between the student, teacher and text, thereby creating a real learning community.

 

In addition, my classes offer a sense of structure that subscribes to the standards of the language, but they also encourage free thinking and expression that promotes the development of new ideas and innovative approaches that are keen representations of the community that we serve. By incorporating both tropes of the traditional and innovative, I hope to allow the student to find a connection to the texts, written assignments or oral expression of external ideology. I believe that valuable efferent and aesthetic connections should be established and groomed by all instructors. If this occurs, then the student will recognize that English assignments serve as true learning tools, as well as conduits linking with personal experiences. In my classrooms, students are encouraged to write from personal encounters as well as useful examples from a designated artifact. They are rarely discouraged from challenging traditional theories if substantial evidence is presented. By actively encouraging such an open environment, I have witnessed even the hostile student embrace an idea that was previously considered taboo. I have also watched the traditionally disadvantaged student embrace ideas and group theories that they would otherwise never be exposed to, even though it affects them daily.  

 

By providing a flexible and encouraging environment both inside and outside the classrooms, students often recognize the value of formal education as it relates to their personal situations. At the same time, by continuing to foster innovation, keeping abreast of contemporary practices in my discipline as well as popular culture, I continue to grow and thereby my teaching practices will change and even my philosophy. As of today I believe that success can be and can continue to be accurately measured by the growing student bodies, retention and graduation rates, and the continuing education that returning students receive even after they recieve their degrees or certificates.