Teaching Philosophy

Martin Luther King said it best, “Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” If my students leave my classroom with increased intelligence and character along with a greater understanding of political science than and only then will I have accomplished my true goal as an educator.

I believe that political science is an imperative subject to understand because the various branches of political science that affect our lives from the time we are born to the time that we die. The politics of the country, state or city that a person is born into affects everything from the quality of education received to the accessibility of goods and resources. My goal as a professor is to show my students just how imperative political science is to their lives. An extension of this goal is to not just teach my students how their government and governments around the world function but to teach them what they can do to assure that their government and governments around the world are working for their desires and needs. A final goal is to inspire my students to consider and by extension choose political science as their vocation. 

In pursuit of these responsibilities and goals the following three attributes are key in my classroom:

Mutual Respect - I not only command respect but I give respect to my students. In addition to sharing the expectations I have for my students, I allow my students to share their expectations for me. The agreed upon student expectations of me, discussed on the first day of class, are amended to the course syllabus. Through mutual respect my goals are to create a safe space for learning and give an example about how my students can be responsible adults. 

Practical Politics - It is important to me that students see political science as more than the three branches of the United States government because political science is bigger than this. I do more than teach my students about Congress – I allow them to see Congress in action and I teach them how they can learn about Congress first hand through internships. I do more than teach my students about elections – I allow them to see the campaign finance data and teach them about how they can get involved with candidates or parties they support. Through an emphasis on practical politics my goal is to show students how to be an informed and involved national and international citizen.

Contributions of Historically Marginalized Groups – Graduating from a Historically Black woman’s college allowed me to learn about the contributions that women and men of color have made to all fields including political science. It is important to me that my students have this same exposure. I teach my students about the history of historically marginalized groups in Congress, like the surge of Black congressmen during Reconstruction. I also teach my students about Ida B. Wells and her contributions to ending lynching in the United States and about the Madres de Plaza de Mayo and their contributions to ending the violent disappearances during the Dirty War in Argentina. Through an emphasis on the contributions of historically marginalized groups, my goal is to expand my student’s ideas about the history of politics and the actors who have influenced the evolution of today’s politics.

As a professor, I have the unique responsibility to not only teach my students about the subject matter within political science but also give them tools that go beyond the science of politics that they can utilize when they leave my classroom.

© Danielle Pritchett 2015