My principal pedagogical objective is to cultivate in students a passion for enduring curiosity, learning, productivity, innovation, critical thinking and openness to the ‘other’. I believe there exists something essentially significant and cherished about education which cannot be reduced to merely the logic of utility. University of Toronto, where I spent eight years pursuing my graduate studies, played a significant role in shaping my approach. OISE/ UT in particular is one of the most diverse and multicultural educational institution in Canada. Its students’ cultural, religious racial, class, ethnic, and sexual diversity impelled me to grasp a multiplicity of methods and cultures of learning. From these encounters, I became more conscious of communication tools such as signs and codes, body language, and their role in creating a safe, comprehensive, and stimulating communicative milieu for my colleagues.
The fact that I was raised in a different culture has always drawn colleagues to me; they find my methods of educational communication both challenging and enlightening. My academic mentors set an excellent example for me to follow as a successful university instructor in a culturally diverse environment. Their respectful and tolerant manner helped me develop my ability to evaluate and articulate my views and to share them differently within different cultures. I have endeavoured during my teaching career at University of Tehran, and will continue to do so, to apply these lessons in several ways: respect and promote intellectual diversity, adopt the role of moderator/mentor rather than activist/partisan, present diverse and substantive materials, and set high and clear standards for students’ accomplishments.
I employ a variety of approaches to achieve these goals, which include but are not limited to the following:
a) Strengthening the knowledge of students in philosophy, and familiarizing them with new philosophical topics in a critical way
b) Establishing correspondence between the schools of non-Western philosophy and Western philosophy in order to develop students’ worldview
c) Cultivating the added advantages of seminars, group discussions, and gatherings to engender or enhance tolerance within the educational process setting.
d) Establishing the necessary means and basis for Participating in conferences at international philosophical fora, and laying the basis for dialogue between domestic and international loci of knowledge
e) Training creative and innovative talent in specific fields of philosophy and encouraging the design and free critique of the thinking of Western and non-Western scholars in specialized fields of knowledge
f) Attracting students from abroad for specialized study based on cross-cultural philosophy.
To advance these goals requires cultivating critical thinking in my students, engaging their minds, rather than seeking to fill them with philosophies and philosophers. Since I have faith in critical thinking, my principal teaching goal is to encourage students to think critically and to involve them in a critical discussion on the issues outlined in the course syllabus. In addition to providing professional direction, I try to develop in my students not only innovativeness and intellectual independence, but also a kind of utopianism, inspiring them to move beyond their limitations. In my experience, that enthusiasm for knowledge is achieved when students regard education as an inevitable part of the progression of their sense of subjectivity and recognition, rather than merely as specializing in a specific field.
I believe that showing students how to read and to interpret a specific text is not sufficient. Under the most favorable conditions, it makes them expert in some philosophical fields. As a cross-philosophical educator, I believe that it is the essence of critical thinking that constitutes education in humanities which to a certain degree is an inestimable tool in the struggle to transform the current situation of the world into a better condition in terms of justice and freedom. By no means am I suggesting that university can or should be considered a place of political activities; rather my core educational objective is to invite students to look at political power, social order and dominant thoughts in a critical way. Indeed, as an educator, I strongly encourage students to study knowledge in correlation with power, to be critically open to other thoughts, other methods of thinking and other ways of confronting ‘being.’ I believe this twofold objective—namely, learning the central philosophies and being open to their ‘others’—makes students both specialists and intellectuals who are not indifferent to world issues such as war, poverty, injustice, despotism and discrimination.