Friday, May 4, 2007


Inspired Bloggers,

My name is Indhika Jayaratnam and I am a Program Associate at Center for Inspired Teaching. As a first time blogger and current employee of the organization, I wanted to create a blog feature that enabled me to further explore our philosophy, mission, and work as it applies to experiences in the classroom, policy, and community affairs.

To this end, I will be writing the Inspired Teacher Feature series. Each month I will interview someone invested in improving education and the school system, and I will create 4 weekly entries based on these conversations. I hope you enjoy the posts and please help make this feature an interactive one by posting some of your own experiences and thoughts!


May Feature: Judy White

For the first feature I interviewed Judy White. Judy taught Inspired Teaching's founder, Aleta Margolis, speech and acting in high school. Aleta describes Judy as the first teacher who opened her mind, intellectually challenged her, and inspired her to learn.

Judy's teaching philosophies are a big part of the Inspired Teaching history and to this day, Judy continues to work with the organization as a mentor and supporter. In this month's teacher feature I will highlight some aspects of Judy's life experiences, teaching techniques, and personal philosophies that enabled her to become an Inspired Teacher.

Part I: Discovering the Socratic Method

Before we even begin the interview Judy White, a master teacher and subject of the interview, is asking me questions.

What do I hope to learn from the questions I have drafted?

What format do I think will most effectively capture my main points?

How am I going to set up an interview-friendly space?

Judy is the first person I have picked for the Inspired Teaching Blog Feature Series and from the beginning she is determined to make our interview a learning process from which I can glean important lessons and skills for future interviews.

When I ask her advice on what she thinks is the best approach to an interview she shares some tips from her considerable experience as an actor and magazine editor but follows-up each piece of advice with, “what do you think is the right way?”

Judy’s insistence on questioning my understanding of the interview process is characteristic of her teaching philosophy: an inquiry based approach that challenges students to engage material and form their own opinions through insightful questioning. While this approach is now known in education circles as the Socratic Method, Judy began using the technique ‘accidentally’.

In fact, Judy credits her adventurous career path as actor, director, playwright, writer, and editor with forming the basis of her teaching techniques and philosophy. “My technique evolved with practice, application, and hard work,” Judy says referring to her introduction to inquiry-based teaching in acting classes and her development of the technique when directing, writing, and eventually teaching.

By constantly asking her students questions, Judy challenged them to delve deeply into lessons, form thoughtful opinions, critique arguments, and apply what they learned to other situations. The skills gained from using this method - i.e. critical thinking - are invaluable both in and outside of the classroom.

Next week - Part II: Revering the Unconscious

No comments: