Christtine Fondse Teaching Philosophy Teaching as a Passion My passion for teaching has to do with my love for literature and language. The province of literature is the human condition, life with all its feelings, thoughts and insights. From the time I was a little child growing up in India I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I would gather neighbourhood children together because I wanted them to experience the other worlds I had explored vicariously through literature. To enrich students’ lives beyond the narrow confines of the classroom, to recognize that there are different learning styles, to aid students to communicate ideas with clarity became my passion. To teach with joy, enthusiasm and a sense of humour has been my goal. Children want to learn when motivated. As Einstein stated, “It is the supreme art of teachers to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” The Importance of Mentors I’ve been indeed fortunate to have encountered extraordinary mentors over the years. If one wants to instil a love for any subject, good mentors help facilitate the process because teaching is an art, not a business. I’m infinitely grateful for the excellent role models I have had. My earliest and most influential mentor was my mother, who encouraged me to read widely and allowed me to follow my dream of becoming a teacher. Two others were teachers from England who came to India: Margaret Moore and Clara Bessie Schiff. Charlotte Huck, my advisor at the Ohio State University, was a wonderful teacher. Elinor Chelsom (Stinson), who introduced Children’s Literature and Drama courses in the College of Education, nurtured my aesthetic experience. Dorothy Heathcote demonstrated that all children could participate and be totally engaged in educational drama, not just the chosen few. Every class I’ve taught at the University level always began with a quotation from Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone: “Literacy is the cornerstone of civilization. To be illiterate is to be deformed. And the derision that was once directed at the physical freak may, perhaps more justly, descend upon the illiterate. If he or she can live a cautious life among the uneducated all may be well, for in the country of the purblind the eyeless is not rejected.” Each one of my mentors addressed the issue of literacy in ways that truly inspired me. Meaningful Learning In my classroom, I combined theory with practice. It is critical to teach theory, so that we have a sound foundation to support practical application as students take on many roles as readers and writers. Learning must always be meaningful. I am very glad that the books written for children today help them extend their experiences or see their everyday world in a new perspective, more so than in previous years. Books about minorities, appreciating racial and ethnic diversity, understanding various world cultures and the like, allow children to savour really fine literature in a truly meaningful way. Books can have the power to evoke in readers rich images and deep emotional responses regardless of the technological format in which the material is presented. Extended Learning We would get together after class if students were interested in pursuing further discussions. My office door was always open. I told my students that if at any time they required help, they were free to come and chat. In a sense I was ‘mother’ to many, advising them when they were confronted with major decisions in their lives. This aspect was especially true around exam time when stress levels were high. Problems outside of campus needed to be resolved as they impacted learning. Lifelong Learning We, as teachers, should be flexible in our approach to learning. Knowledge changes swiftly in our fast paced society and we need to keep pace. Teaching is an art that is refined over time. We learn from our students, as they learn from us. Mohandas Gandhi embraced lifelong learning. He said that he did not wish home to be walled in on all sides, nor did he want his windows tightly closed. Rather, he desired that the cultures of all lands blow freely and have access to his home. That’s a marvelous image for teachers to reflect and act upon. Diversity in the Classroom Growing up in India and Indonesia afforded me the opportunity to experience diverse people. What a rich setting! My mother taught me to appreciate and respect all cultures. I learned that each child deserved an equal chance. Fine teachers enable our children to succeed. I have been fortunate to meet many who embraced the diversity within their classrooms. Changing the world for the better is a lofty yet reachable goal, achieved through our students.