Philosophy of Teaching: A Personal Statement

With this post, the CTL begins a new series on teaching philosophies written by SJU faculty.  Our first contribution comes from

Sister Peggy Fanning, CSJ, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Science


My philosophy of education in the area of theological studies is based on and flows from the

Great Commission of Jesus to “Go and teach all nations.” The opportunity to follow this

commission is eminently possible in St. John’s University where the student body is composed

of persons from allover the world. The nations have come to SJU and the opportunity to teach

them is present in every class due to the varieties of cultures and faiths represented in the student


My commitment to teaching theology animates me to strive for excellence in teaching the subject

matter of this fascinating area of study. It compels me to strive for continual updating through

prayerful study and research in the area of theological and biblical inquiries and investigations.

A Catholic university is ideally a place where knowledge and relationships are characterized by a

quest for meaning. I believe that this search for meaning and wisdom can be achieved by study

and reflection and the sharing of ideas. In my theology classes I engage in interactive dialogue

that promotes meaningful communication experiences. I seek to recognize and respect the

views and perspectives of students who are of different or no faiths. I am cognizant of the

importance of leading students to a place of discovery, self-learning and opportunities to think

critically about the multi-faceted aspects of theological issues.

I seek to lead students to appreciate the gift of Catholic thought. Because each person presents

an opportunity to experience the infinite desire for God, I endeavor to lead the students to an

awareness that theology is a subject that grapples with the mystery of God. To this end, I

engage students in the search for truth through reflection, study and participation. Required

assignments that include study, reflection, PPT presentations, discussions and research into the

contributions of Catholic biblical scholars and theologians offer an array oflearning possibilities.

In order to be responsive to the needs of the students, I strive to be relevant and engaging in my

presentations. A ware of the place that technology plays in the lives of the students, I endeavor to

keep up with technological advances and resources that assist in the presentation of material in a

manner that appeals to and connects with the learning styles of the students.

My passion and zeal to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus as a theological educator strongly

resonate with the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves,

the tides and gravity,

we shall harness for God the energies oflove,

and then, for a second time in the history of the world,

man will have discovered fire.”