I first came to Long Island University (C.W. Post campus) years ago armed with a freshly minted Ph.D. from Texas Tech University (Clinical Psychology) along with a certificate of completion of a rather prestigious National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Post Doctoral Fellowship in Child Clinical Psychology from the renowned Devereux Institute in Devon Pa.
My professional goals at that time were simple and direct. One or two years of university teaching while building a private practice and then on to the full time practice of child and adolescent clinical psychology with no university affiliation whatsoever. The best laid plans of mice and men…that was some 29 years ago. Isn’t it interesting how things do or do not work out exactly as we had planned them to?
As we all know at this level there are virtually no teacher training programs for future College and University teachers. Although a few programs in the Teaching of General Psychology do speckle the landscape, future college teachers are for the most part left to their own devices in trying to figure out how exactly they are to gain some reasonable measure of competency in this profession without the benefits of any real training despite all the diplomas and certificates which might decorate our office walls! If there is another profession that follows this format I am not aware of it its existence. Can you imagine if dentists or surgeons or engineers to name just a few of many areas were left to their own devices and virtually had to train themselves?? A very frightening concept I would think!!
So out of necessity, I suppose, we have all evolved differing and probably at least somewhat overlapping philosophies regarding college and university teaching styles. My ideas and perceptions are based solely upon my experiences over the years with both undergraduate and graduate students here at the C.W. Post and Brentwood Campus settings. In the brief paragraphs that will follow I am simply sharing some personal beliefs. No more or no less than that. All are of course arguable and I feel no need to impose these thoughts or perceptions upon my fellow university educators who I am sure have evolved their own highly unique and idiosyncratic teaching styles and overall philosophies as have I.
As Carl Rogers, the esteemed American psychologist and himself a gifted teacher so wisely put it in his classic On Becoming a Person: “Experience is for me the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person’s ideas are as authoritative as my own experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth………”(1969).
It is in that spirit I offer the following observations:
1. I believe that virtually all students (all human beings for that matter), have a natural desire to learn and that we as educators must create a positive non -stressful climate under which that learning might occur. Which means at least keeping external threats to an absolute minimum in our classroom settings.
2. In this regard I have learned over the years that if you treat students with fairness, dignity, and respect that is exactly what you will get back almost all the time.
3. It is my firm belief that at the same time we must maintain appropriate and realistic academic standards in our dealings with students. I have learned that if you ask nothing of your students that is exactly what you can expect to get back in return.
4. It is imperative that we listen carefully to all of our students. They speak to us in so many ways both verbal and non-verbal. This type of feedback is one of the prime ways we grow in this profession if we will just focus on it rather than tune it out which is often the easier of those two alternatives.
5. As university professors we are here for one and one reason alone----the educational well being of our students. Everything else is far secondary to this position! While research, scholarly pursuits, program planning and necessary revisions are all a part of what we must do as university professionals, we nevertheless must never lose this primary vision. It has been my perception at times over the years that we do tend to stray and lose sight of this basic fact. Without our students, in fact, there is absolutely no reason for any of us to be here.
6. It is our professional obligation to upgrade our material and to stay as professionally current as is possible. It is also our responsibility to separate empirically based facts from our own personal and professional opinions and observations as we present material to our students.
As a New York State Certified practicing child and adolescent Psychologist I try to maintain a reasonable professional balance in which I draw rather heavily at times on my actual clinical experiences to enhance my university teaching of the relevant material.
At this point in time I have a very big part of my heart and my life invested in Long Island University. I simply cannot imagine not being here! In addition, I maintain numerous contacts with my former students. In this regard it is a pleasure to be given the opportunity to watch the majority of them grow and mature into highly effective teachers who are now scattered virtually across the entire nation at this point in time. An additional major bonus for me in all of this is that through my University affiliation I have been afforded an opportunity to touch virtually hundreds and hundreds of school age children through the good works of these former students. That is admittedly a very small touch but such a grand plan it is!!!!!
- Dr. D
Note: Dr. Dreilinger has won three awards for teaching excellence. Two of those awards were the Dean's Award for teacher of the year for the School of Education. The other was the prestigious David A. Newton Award which is a university wide award for teaching excellence.