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July 18, 2022

What is your teaching philosophy? – Nasim Syed

What is your teaching philosophy? How has this originated, and can you evaluate how your educational touchstones will impact upon the teacher you aspire to be?

“Of the various callings to which the division of labour has caused man specially to devote himself, there is none to be compared for nobility or usefulness with that of the true teacher” (Sands, 2019). Reflecting on why I choose to specialise as a teacher, I believe this profession is among the most honourable and valuable in society. As a teacher, I aim to empower others to grow – cognitively, emotionally, socially – to contribute to the world in their way positively.

Sands (2019) says that true teachers will adapt their teaching methods to the nature of the object to be taught and to the order in which the faculties of the human mind naturally unfold themselves. Part of my teaching philosophy is that one should adapt their approach to best connect with students at an individual level, recognising the unique nature of each person. I first experienced this type of attention from my mother, who seemed to treat each of her six sons according to their different personalities, making my five brothers and I feel most valued and loved. As a father of a four-year-old boy, I now interest in children’s development and how we talk to children can influence them.

My first foray into teaching was ‘on the mat’, training in jiu-jitsu at my university Jitsu Club. The nature of attending martial arts sessions twice a week over an academic year means that you become increasingly better at the activity over time. As such, when the new student ‘freshers’ arrives the following year, you are automatically someone who can guide them in the techniques you’ve learned. Jitsu has developed my appreciation for peer learning, which has become an essential element in my classroom. Additionally, I believe that extra-curricular activities are just as important as academic pursuits, helping to develop a well-rounded character. As Holt & Ramsay (2021) suggest, martial arts are associated with moral philosophy and are typically seen as a vehicle to transform character.

A critical experience that led me further into teaching was a volunteering trip to South Africa. I joined a group to co-teach a life skills course to disadvantaged teenagers, educating them about sexually transmitted diseases and strategies to develop a positive mindset. A part of my philosophy became to best prepare students for the real world, teaching them practical skills and knowledge to serve them in life. As technology continues to change industries and create new jobs that haven’t existed in the past, education systems must respond to this new world of work to ensure that students are educated, skilled, prepared, and employable for the future (Wilen, 2018:182).

Chen (2003) identifies this as a ‘business-based metaphor’ where teaching is considered as an efficient process of producing students who will satisfy the needs of the market. According to Erdem (2019), 21st-century teachers should contribute to the individual’s development, take the initiative, make sound decisions, communicate effectively, have empathy, manage information, serve as a guide for students, and continue life-long learning themselves.


Chen, D. (2003) A Classification System for Metaphors about Teaching. Journal of Physical Education Recreation and Dance, 74:24-31 Available at: (Accessed: 10 October 2021).

Erdem, C. (2019) Introduction to 21st Century Skills and Education. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambridge. Available at: (Accessed: 7 October 2021).

Holt, J. & Ramsay, M. (2021) The Philosophy of Mixed Martial Arts. Routledge, London. Available at: (Accessed: 12 October 2021).

Sands, N. (2019) The Philosophy of Teaching: The Teacher, The Pupil, The School. Good Press, New York. Available at: (Accessed: 9 September 2021).

Wilen, T. (2018) Digital Disruption: The Future of Work, Skills, Leadership, Education, and Careers in a Digital World. Peter Lang, New York. Available at: (Accessed: 8 October 2021).

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