The foundation for my philosophy of education is really a philosophy of life that I have acquired from one of the greatest influences in my life, my father. My father came from a remote mountain village in Greece with no running water, electricity or even a decent pair of shoes. Today he is a successful general surgeon in the Chicago area and he has always attributed his successes in life to his education. For him, books were a luxury and learning was a tremendous privilege that was highly revered. Although he is a man of science, his knowledge base and interests vary. He can recite the Iliad and Odyssey in Ancient Greek, he loves literature, art, history, philosophy and his knowledge and memory for mathematics astounds me to this day. I consider him a well-rounded individual that respects the world around him, his community and learning in all forms. This said, I believe that the role of education should be multi-faceted incorporating all core subjects including the fine and applied arts and civic, ethical, social and emotional ideals. A well-rounded individual should have an understanding, appreciation and respect for all that our world has to offer.

When I think of educational philosophies that have influenced my own I think of Dewey and Rousseau. I believe in hands-on learning and in finding ways for children to discover their own internal desire and drive to learn. I believe that learning is constructed and that the process is often just as important as the end result: the looking, the searching, the process of discovery is so rewarding. I see this daily as I watch students work through the visual problems given to them. In my own teaching I take a student-centered approach, differentiating instruction as necessary. I like to consider and teach for the variety of learning styles and intelligences that students may posses. Assessment of this learning can be gauged through a number of different methods including daily studio feedback, rubrics, written and group critiques, self-assessment and portfolios. I think that demystifying the grading process and giving students an understanding that grades represent their learning is a key to good teaching. Most importantly, I believe that all students can learn and, in fact, want to learn. Taking a personalized, student-centered approach to teaching can result in the achievement of high standards and a more meaningful experience for the students. If we as teachers have high expectations of them, with the right guidance, all students can achieve.

As an educator of the visual arts, I believe that art is an important academic subject and should be treated as such. The visual arts offer students important visual problem-solving skills engaging alternative areas of the brain and alternative intelligences. The visual arts also offer connections between human beings throughout the centuries. They connect us to our past and they invent the future. The visual arts can also be seen as a medium of expression for what is not often conveyable in words. Most importantly, I think that art is a subject that can be learned by all. It is not a subject that is limited to the talented, elite and academics. By creating a safe environment in which students feel comfortable to take risks and by incorporating all aspects of art learning (including production, critique, art history and discussion) students can all learn to create and to appreciate art.

Coming back to the influence that my father has played in my education and in my educational philosophy I cannot go without quoting Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I learned this Socratic quote and took it to heart at a very young age.  This mantra has fed and been the catalyst for my own love of learning. Whether it is art, science, ecology, history or politics, I love to learn and am always on the search for my own truths and realizations. I consider myself to be a reflective practitioner in the art of teaching, in my personal art practice and even in life. This is a passion that I hope comes through to my students and leaves them with the inspiration to learn all that they can about the world in which they live.