Debora Barrera Pontillo
Statement of Teaching Philosophy
I work with the idea of research, dialogue, reflection, and action as practice for a critical and courageous engagement with one’s art, one’s life, one’s community. Teaching should foster the ability to think critically and act courageously. Education should not merely re-present or “transmit a passive knowledge” but assist students in making links between the production of knowledge and the mechanics and structures of everyday life on a local and global level. We must cultivate and ask critical questions. Who is authorized to speak? Whose voices are validated and whose excluded? Whose histories are told?
In teaching I facilitate the cultivation of questions and the search for meaning. We work in the “place” where power, politics, culture, history, language and our lived experiences intersect. We become border crossers and theorists. We become excavators and map makers. We move towards a deep understanding of the effects of our actions and choices on the seventh generation. At that point education is no longer an individual accomplishment to better that individual life but a responsibility to the community and to creating a just society for the seventh generation.
The classroom must be a place where things happen as well as a safe space that affirms the students learning process. My emphasis is on creating a space that encourages and nurtures the creative spirit, that validates each students humanity. The classroom is a place for exploration and experimentation.
Students must feel free and affirmed in their efforts to think critically, to listen compassionately, to process in a transformative manner, to push against, to stumble and to rise up. Teaching must fan the flame of inquiry, of the quest for knowledge, the search for meaning. Teaching must provide the tools for cultivation and deconstruction.