First and foremost: I believe that the individual matters. Given my experiences as a child with a learning disability - Autism Spectrum Disorder - I know firsthand how the assembly line mode of education can alienate young people and prevent them from developing their interests and talents. Autism, by definition, means that you don’t fit in. It is a social disability, meaning that a person on the Spectrum struggles to develop the ability to send and receive social signals; signals that serve as the basis for group-oriented life. As such, I have a window into the struggles that countless students face in myriad ways.
Education has often served as a barrier to acceptance for all manner of disadvantaged groups. Bureaucracy, conformity, and hierarchy are the enemies of inclusivity. As such, I have developed a method of teaching designed to create a welcoming, productive environment that fosters students’ interests. It starts with treating students not as enemies, but as equals — adults with genuine concerns and curiosities. In order to create such an environment, I favor collaborative teaching methods such as holding classroom votes on assignments and syllabus construction; I utilize flexible assignments that focus on open-ended writing prompts rather than multiple choice questions with singularly correct answers; I provide students individualized feedback and track their progress over the course of the semester; and, lastly, I grade on curve that adjusts for students’ individual strengths, weaknesses, and progress.
I have taught and designed syllabi for introductory and advanced courses alike, including Intro to Comparative Politics and Religion & State In The Modern World. I am prepared to teach a wealthy array of courses, with regional expertise in the United States, Eastern Europe, Middle East-North Africa, and Israel-Palestine in particular. I have substantive interests in the politics of religion and globalization, as well as historically-minded courses examining the legacies of institutions and ideologies. In addition, I have served as a Teaching Assistant for each of the four main branches of American political science — Comparative, American, International Relations, and Theory.
New Orleans, 2019
My methods get results. In my Winter 2021 course, Religion & State in the Modern World, student surveys revealed that before the start of the course, just 18.2 percent of students considered their interest in the subject matter “high”. By the end of the course, that number rose to 72.7 percent. In my Fall 2020 course, Intro to Comparative Politics, the number rose from 21.7 percent to 56.5 percent. In both cases, students reporting “low” interest in the subject matter dropped by half. You can read the detailed reports here and here. I also have a relatively flattering Rate My Professor page, although I will acknowledge that you can’t please everybody.