Nat Miller

Educator. Director. Actor.

Teaching Philosophy December 5, 2007

“Education is the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” 

 Paulo Freire     

     Theatre should not be marginalized in educational systems, but rather celebrated as an embodied learning tool that is a study of art, history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, literature, and culture.  It is a gymnasium for the imagination.      I believe in the power of stories and allegory as a potent springboard for discussion.  It is important to me to not only teach the canon of traditional plays, but also introduce students to playwrights and theatre artists who exist outside of the mainstream.  

     I am a progressive pedagogical practitioner.  I believe a good theatre class has the power to inspire and transform.  What makes theater such a strong learning tool is that it asks students to enter imaginatively into the lives of others so we may understand their motivations.  In a world given increasingly to violence and tensions among ethnic, religious, and other diverse groups, the value of being able to understand and feel for others as human beings cannot be overestimated.  To emotionally, imaginatively, and intellectually experience what it means to be human is one of my primary goals of education.  Fewer subjects have more potential to reach this goal than theater, because humanity is the core of its content. 

     Good teaching raises more questions than answers, and often I have as much to learn from my student’s experiences as they do from me.  In this sense, I believe in student centered teaching, where my class is a dialogue of ideas rather than a top down banking of information.  Through a variety of techniques I motivate my students to mix theory and practice by reading, writing, rewriting, and performing.  I believe that ideas, acting choices, and student writing must be backed by research and a commitment to making specific choices.  I place a high value on training students to think carefully before they speak, write, or act.  

     As a teacher I strive to cultivate students’ minds through hard work that is executed with kindness, respect, humor, praise, but above all by example.  I aim to create a community where students feel safe to take risks but challenged to never settle for mediocrity.  I am interested in creating an environment of intellectual curiosity, where students see themselves as scholars who learn to question and to act.  I approach my job with hope that the life skills gained through theatre skills will model a world of collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.  These tools are not only essential for academic survival, but also to foster a better world.