Teaching Philosophy


I have a humanist1) philosophy. This means I have an interest in the whole person, whether that person is a patient or a learner.2)

This interest in the whole person makes me place the learner's interests at the heart of their learning. My learners have made the decision to take up the vocation of medicine, and have a major interest in learning it well, counterbalanced with a need to pass their examinations3).

From these two concepts I assume that my learners have an interest in learning the breadth of medicine. My job is to take that spark and ignite a fire with it, encouraging learning by many methods, although I prefer not to provide didactic teaching.

My Learners

My work is mainly with learners from Asian cultures, who are first or second generation Australians. From them I have learnt much about being an educator, and I have been influenced by their cultures and beliefs about education.

My learners have very strong positive views of their teachers. In Hindu culture the order of importance is first your mother, then your father, and then your teacher. I acknowledge the responsibility this gives to me as the teacher, to set an example in the way I live my life, practise medicine and to “change human society toward wellbeing”4)

From my Islamic students I have also learnt the importance of the teacher, and have absorbed some of the duties of the Islamic teacher in my work. I engage in critical and reflective thinking about my work and teaching, which are noted as duties of the Islamic teacher, although I do not claim to be teaching about the Unity of knowledge nor the pathway to Allah.5)

For my learners, I wish to provide them with a broad view of medicine, and practical knowledge for practising medicine in Australia. I wish to set them on a path of lifelong learning, seeing past the mountains of the formal examinations, able to practise good medicine for the remainder of their lives.

My learners are the future of my profession. Their factual knowledge is often more recent than mine, and as I learn these facts from them I encourage them to think about this knowledge and to form links to other facts they know, integrating their knowledge in this process. Much of my work involves teaching them one-on-one, as part of a formative assessment.

My Work

My tasks can be difficult, when trying to move a learner from a learning style of memorisation towards reflection, but success in this process is very rewarding. I like to positively receive their ideas, and gently suggest other ways of progressing, and provide more strategies for exploration of the problem.

I do this when I am observing a learner over a three hour period, doing a formative assessment. My main intention is to work with them on consultation skills. I am not working as a subject matter expert, although I can fill this role if requested. I believe that it is inappropriate for me to be the subject matter expert during these visits, because I wish to direct them to be able to answer their own questions. I believe that acting as a subject matter expert prevents the development of their skills of enquiry and research. In the event of seeing dangerous medical practice, I would be obliged to become the subject matter expert, and politely suggest another course of action, for example, to check with another practitioner.

Lecturing is not one of my major tasks. When I have didactic teaching to perform I intersperse with alternate activities, following the principles of Adult Learning espoused by Sousa6). For example, in the Learning Planner lecture, learners are asked to start filling out their Learning Planner in the lecture, so that they have both a break from listening and a chance to integrate the new knowledge with their existing knowledge.

My Results

My results are rather intangible. I am one of a team teaching the learners, so I cannot take credit for success of my learners. I have a small group for whom I a mentor, and for these learners I have extra duties when they have difficulty passing examination sections. When these learners are finally successful, they do thank me profusely. This is a cultural norm for my learners. My long term concern is their future in Medicine, and their ability to solve the problems they are presented with every day by the patients they see.

Why Do I Teach?

I teach young doctors and medical students as part of my retirement plan. I cannot finish my work in medicine, so someone will have to be trained to continue it.Once I had become interested in medical education, I then chose to know more about it, and chose to gain a qualification to support my teaching. The expansion of my knowledge through this has increased my interest in education, and being able to do it well.

also in Teaching

Other Sections

1) Merriam, S. B. et al (2007) Learning In Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide (3rd ed) Jossey-Bass, San Francisco CA (281-284)
2) Harrington, R. and Verghese, A. (2013) Practising Humanism in Medicine with Dr. Abraham Verghese. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/780299_print Retrieved 23rd Sep 2015
3) Whitehead, C. and Kuper A. (2012) Beyond the Biomedical Feedlot. Academic Medicine. 2012;87(11):1485 Retrieved 23rd Sep 2015
4) Sharma, B. K. Hinduism and TESOL: Learning, Teaching and Student-Teacher Relationships Revisited. Language & Linguistics Compass, 2013, 7, 79 – 90 Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.libraries.uc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=85674823&site=ehost-live.
5) Ag, H. A. M. A Study for Searching New Foundation of Philosophy of Islamic Education to Revitalizing the Teacher Roles and Duties in Globalization Era International journal of social science and humanity, International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology Press, 2014, 4, 391-396 DOI:10.7763/IJSSH.2014.V4.385
6) Sousa, D.A. (2011) How the Brain Learns (4th ed) Corwin, Thousand Oaks, CA