In his writings on critical pedagogy, Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire defined teaching as a process of mutual knowledge construction, where learning is shaped through discussion with and learning from students. (Freire, 2007). This learning about and from the student is essential so that knowledge can be constructed in ways that are meaningful to the student and lead to critical analyses of new ideas and life-long understanding and application, a phenomenon known as deep learning.

I have come to interpret my own role in this process less as a professor (literally: someone who openly declares an expertise) but more as a guide, a coach, or what the Japanese call a ‘sensei’ (literally: one who has gone before). All more or less describe someone with more experience, who guides a novice along a chosen path walking side by side and looking for cues as to what that learner needs to continue on forward.

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I believe that the strength of engaged, student-led enquiry lies in its ability to challenge an alleged common truth by presenting alternative possibilities, which force both the students and teachers to justify their ideas. The resulting competition of ideas is what creates excellence in learning and respect for each other’s positions. Moving students toward that end requires validation of their pre-existing knowledge and abilities, engaging them in a critical look at each other and the world in which they live, and encouraging them to see themselves as actors in the intellectual arena, a world where thoughts and ideas have both potential and consequences.

To facilitate this process, my courses apply realistic group-based research tasks that engage everyone and reflect the students’ future professional life both in terms of functional challenges as well as group dynamics. Moreover, I use a flipped classroom model, in which students study new content online via video lectures, and we then dedicate class time itself to roundtable discussions, brainstorming and debates of assigned problems often started by the students. This not only allows for more personalised guidance and interaction with students instead of lecturing on material, but also respects everyone’s contribution and assimilates a professional meeting situation.

At Sydney, I teach and coordinate MECO 6909-Crisis Communication, MECO 6919-Health Communication, MECO Organisational Communication, and MECO 6934-Social Marketing. If you want to know more about these course, please follow the link "Intro to Classes."