College Teaching

Marie Nubia-Feliciano is currently a faculty member at the Attallah College of Educational Studies, at Chapman University, in the City of Orange, California, and visiting lecturer at the University of California in Irvine’s School of Social Sciences.

Below is a statement about Dr. Nubia-Feliciano’s views on education.

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Education is a process, not a commodity

When I read this quote several years ago, it struck me as simplistic, yet, also having profound meaning for me as an educator. Throughout my years in education, I have come to see the process of learning as just that, a process. It is not something that I can hold in my hand or hang on the wall – that is what the diplomas are for. The process of becoming educated is a more profound and soul-shifting experience than something as tangible as a piece of paper. The notion is often hard for others to understand. Becoming educated means that you are now held responsible for knowing better. One may not always agree with what is said, or the method of instruction; however, you now know. Even if that knowing means that you know less than you thought initially, that is still an important discovery. It is the process of knowing, the process of education that is the purpose of schooling. The instructor, faculty, teacher, or professor, plays a part in making this process a reality in the classroom.

My belief in teaching is based on this process of education. When I learn something new, I am often left to wonder about the “gray”, the unknown areas that lie between what I thought I knew and what I have just learned, and asking why things are the way they are. This for me is part of the process, the meaning making process. It is in this process that I hope to engage students in. As a teacher, I do not expect tectonic shifts in beliefs, but that students remain open and receptive to the shifts that occur and acknowledge them when they happen. Being engaged means being present, accountable, and receptive. For many this is a scary and intimidating proposition, often leaving many to disengage for fear of losing one’s sense of self to the process. I believe that it is through mindful engagement that we begin to explore our own humanity, and what we are contributing to the world. All of this may sound lofty, and a bit esoteric, but seeing the process of learning this way, I hope will open minds and hearts – again another lofty goal, I know.

As someone who understands the role that language plays in the meaning making process, I think that knowing how the process is impacted by language is paramount. Language can help or hinder the growth and development of new ideas and can interfere with the imparting of knowledge. Developing a common language, and understanding the lexicon of my profession, will be my way of bringing the voice of education into the classroom. Helping students learn to code-switch, knowing when and how to use a language depending on the context in which they find themselves, is an important task that is part of the learning process. Students bring with them their own ways of knowing and a different voice with which they make meaning. It is through this dialog that knowledge is created, that learning occurs, and that language is expanded to create something new. A teacher can only provide a framework within which students can use language to make meaning. It is the students, through sharing of ideas and engaging in the process, who create the possibility of true learning.

I know that I may never be able to convey to all students how precious an education is and how fortunate they are to have access to the process. I only hope to help them begin their engagement in the process. The process is where we will lose ourselves only to find ourselves again. It is in this process that I hope students will come away with a renewed sense of discovery. An education is more than something that you hang on a wall or place on a shelf. It is self-discovery. This process takes time and commitment. I hope to bring this level of awareness and commitment into the classroom.