Philosophy and Practice

Key Influences on my Teaching and Learning Philosophy and my Personal Praxis

Paulo Freire - Education without Barriers

I read Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed early in my career and it made a strong impression on me. The principles he discusses have remained the foundation of my educational philosophy throughout my life.

Freire calls traditional pedagogy the banking model of education because it treats the student as an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge. Freire argues instead that pedagogy should instead treat the learner as a co-creator of knowledge.

Freire argues education is the key to unlocking oppression of all kinds, arguing that what is good for the most marginalized is good for humanity as a whole.

Like Freire I think education is a basic human right and should be free (like health care should be). I am also a strong believer in education for all, no matter where a student begins their learning journey. Competitive models in education leave too many people behind, and is ultimately bad for staff morale also. I promote co-creation of knowledge in everything that I do.

bell hooks - Education is the Practice of Freedom

For bell hooks emotional engagement is a hall mark of political engagement. She affirms the centrality to education of emotions like love, trust, affection, respect, recognition, commitment, and open and honest communication. She advocates teaching students to transgress against racial, sexual, and class boundaries in order to achieve freedom. hooks engaged in everything she does with clarity and passion.

Following hooks my teaching praxis is motivated by my conviction that students need an environment free from judgment and discrimination, and that enables them to experiment and learn in a safe environment.

Rosi Braidotti - Education is the Practice of Joy

Rosi Braidotti's work is a strong influence on both my teaching and research practice. Her work engages with the contemporary challenges of the Anthropocene (human impact on nature), and the new ethical challenges of advances in digital and biotechnology (e.g. new man-made forms of life). Braidotti's affirmative ethics provides a way to conceive the new challenges humanity faces in a way that is empowering, critical, ethical, and ultimately joyful.

I challenge my students to think critically and ethically as we consider new global challenges, and the ways that businesses interact with other forces like technological innovation. Braidotti has helped inspire my belief in play and joy as key elements of adult empowered learning, which I enact in my everyday teaching praxis. I practice what I teach and so I co-founded a social enterprise built on play learning-logic, which I now use to show students how to innovate and manage an inclusive, empowering organization.

Influences on my Personal Journey of Becoming Pākeha

What I Do and Why: Integrating Philosophy and Practice

My Teaching Praxis

Evidence for practices is available by exploring the tabs at the top of this website.

The practice of removing barriers to learning is a keystone of my practice. I do this by (as far as is practicable):

  • Removing cost,

  • Removing barriers for English as Second Language speakers,

  • Removing barriers caused by competition,

  • Removing barriers to access,

  • Removing barriers to businesses integration,

  • Removing barriers caused by cultural factors.

The practice of co-creation of knowledge is a keystone of my practice. I do this by:

  • Setting assessments where learners can demonstrate their knowledge in creative ways and sharing,

  • Creating resources with students that celebrate their experiences and perspectives,

  • Designing lessons that clearly and concisely explain key concepts and encouraging students to provide examples which are then codified and shared.

The practice of love (caring, support, trust) is a keystone of my practice. I do this by:

  • Staying kind and practicing care,

  • Creating a safe environment in the classroom where mistakes are celebrated and there is no judgement,

  • Careful design so that learning environments are appropriate to medium, and flexible, to enable all students, no matter their level of entry, to feel they belong and that they can succeed.

The practice of critical, creative and ethical thinking in the context of technological, social, cultural and political issues is a keystone of my practice. I do this in he following ways:

  • Centering learning around key topical events and key issues for businesses,

  • Using story techniques to introduce students to business ideas and practices, emphasizing the moral messages in all business action,

  • Integrating my philosophy of practice in my own life and bringing this back to the classroom,

  • Introducing new ideas in an engaging way to help students experience the joy of critical and creative thinking,

  • Encouraging my Master and Doctoral students to engage with at least one critical philosopher to engage more deeply with business issues.

On Becoming Pākeha

Throughout my career I have sought to be a responsible Treaty partner. I have Māori and Pākehā in my wider whānau who speak Māori. My first degree majored in NZ and Pacific history and so I have a good grounding in NZ history which is essential for educators in NZ. I have completed several Te Reo courses and have a Certificate of Proficiency in Te Kakano Level 5 (2008) from AUT (I have the proficiency of a 1 year old). I am influenced by an essay by John Newton written in the literary magazine Landfall entitled 'Becoming Pākehā', based on Newton's book The Double Rainbow about the iconic NZ poet James K. Baxter. In this essay Newton summarizes what he learnt from studying Baxter's Jerusalem experiment. He describes the process of becoming Pākehā as an ongoing and never-ending process of negotiating and self-reflection in relation to Māori. Other inspirations include Richard Shaw's The Forgotten Coast and Alison Jones' this pākehā life, as both resonate and exemplify for me ways becoming Pākehā - responsible Treaty partners - happens through doing hard reflective work on what it means to stand here, on this land in Aotearoa.

My research, teaching and learning practice do not start and stop at the entrance way to the university; they are integrated throughout my life and vice versa. I am not only a teacher and a researcher but a wife, parent and daughter, with connections in my community which I value. Specifically in relation to learning I co-founded a social enterprise in 2012 OnBoard Skate which enacts a play philosophy, and is specifically targeted at more hard-to-reach communities who tend to be disenfranchised from education.

This web site in a personal site of Janet Sayers, hosted on Google Sites. Please go here for my public profile pages hosted at Massey University, Aotearoa New Zealand. You can contact me through Massey's portal.

All student work is shared with permission. Images are from Wikimedia public domain unless otherwise indicated.