- Entrepreneurial Faculty Scholar. 09/17/2013 - present. Employees: 0.
Roger Altizer’s Teaching Statement
I am interested in the intentional use of a wide range of tools wielded with an interest in student success and social justice. I do this mostly through teaching people how to make videogames. I believe in a careful mix of liberation and frustration pedagogies. I am less interested in seeing learners perform the traditional role of student as I am in their learning. I am less interested in maintaining the traditional classroom structure as I am in learning. I am less interested in grades than I am learning. I am interested in enabling young scholars to achieve excellence.
The students who have had me in multiple classes frequently ask me why I seem so different in each class. I tell them, and you now, that the reason for this is that different classes have different goals. They sometimes assert that I seem to be almost two different people. I tell them they are correct. Teaching is a performance, and one that is less about being consistent than it is effective. To that end I believe firmly that all good performances, and classes, require a central theme or theory, grounded in a knowledge community, and that it should be executed very well, with a willingness to adjust it to fit a given scenario.
All of my courses focus on three domains: theory, skills, practice/content. The ratio may vary from a graduate seminar to an undergraduate capstone, but they are all there. All of my courses tend to focus on student empowerment through a pedagogy of liberation and frustration. That is, I encourage my students to be powerful learners who can negotiate their assignments and evaluation, I leave the requirements fuzzy, so that they embrace power and make decisions about their education. This causes a great deal of anxiety in learners, but I try to ease their pain through humor, compassion, and demonstrating a real interest in their success.
I believe students own their education, and should be expected and taught to do so. I opened by expressing my dismay for the traditional performance of student. I don’t expect students to sit, look forward, not check social media, nor recite sections of my lectures in quizzes. I do expect them to perform excellence. I do except them to challenge me, to be frustrated, to scramble to figure out what to do, then to do it well. From seminars to project-based learning I believe that setting up obstacles framed in the course content and letting students be creative in their solutions both anchors their learning and fosters creativity. I believe my roll is to be one part game master, setting up the scenarios and the problems, one part coach, encouraging them to overcome what they think they cannot, and one part mentor, helping them abstract situations, theorize about them, then pointing them to existing thoughts, methods and other texts.
The way I teach is intentionally messy; featuring ambiguity that often leads to frustration for the students. The way I teach is also agile, I adjust my classes on the fly for each student. In an era where MOOCs and other types of online learning are asking if traditional education can be scaled endlessly, I believe that the future role of a professor is not to be one who disseminates knowledge, the internet is quite good at that. Rather, one who mentors and grows young scholars is our mandate. It is no small task, and requires paying quite a bit of attention to one’s students. But I have found time and time again that it is in the liminal spaces that creativity and knowledge bloom. By putting learners in unclear situations, encouraging them to be excellent, and helping them along when they aren’t quite making it, a magical thing occurs: they become young scholars.