When I interviewed Coach Mike Krzyzewski (“Coach K”) for the book, he shared a story about how he came to the conclusion in high school that he wanted to be a teacher and coach. This realization, he said, stemmed from observing the impact his high school coach, Al Ostrowski, had on him. Coach K said Ostrowski believed that he was better than he thought he was. Coach K added: “And I thought I was good, but he believed I was even better. And he made me believe that. And I thought that was very powerful. You know, I wondered if I could do that. That would be a heck of a thing to do.” This story moved me at the time and has stuck with me. It also highlights what draws me to teaching—the opportunity to help students unfold more of their unique intellectual and human potential.
My teaching philosophy is characterized by emphasis not only on content but also on intellectual and personal skills that affect a person’s ability to have an impact across fields and, more broadly, as citizens. Three central skills I emphasize are:
- Independent thinking
- Effective communication (both written and oral and including conversation skills, like effective listening)
- Viewing situations from multiple perspectives
I also aim to cultivate curiosity and hone each student's ability to ask meaningful questions. The courage to take intellectual risks, and relatedly the value of making mistakes, is emphasized in all my courses. More generally, I aim to challenge, stretch, and expand the bounds of students’ thinking in meaningful ways.
I have taught a wide range of courses in the field of psychology, including those listed below:
- Introduction to Psychology
- Health Psychology
- Lifespan Development
- Adolescent Psychology
- Research Methods
- Social Psychology
Other courses I hope to teach in the future include The Science of Happiness and Public Policy and Human Flourishing.
One of my favorite classes I’ve ever taught was a small seminar course at Southwestern University, the summer of the final year I was there. Modeled after a favorite course at Vassar College of a student who worked with me during the summer as a research assistant, the course was like a book club psychology-style. We explored topics relating to the mind, human experience, and psychological growth through reading books in the field of psychology and talking about them. The course was called “Mind Reading”—not because it had anything to do with reading minds but because it was all about reading books about psychology. The picture on the right is a stack of the books we read in the course, and it still brings me great joy.