LANGUAGE PEDAGOGY AND TECHNOLOGIES & DIGITAL HUMANITIES
VASSILIKI RAPTI, Ph.D.
STATEMENT OF TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
I am committed to excellence in scholarship and teaching. Together, they constitute a form of art. The art of teaching requires commitment to topnotch scholarship, innovation and creativity, and, for me, is well exemplified in the concept of play. As the author of Ludics in Surrealist Theatre and Beyond (Ashgate, 2013) and Chair of the Harvard Mahindra Humanities Ludics Research Seminar, I have assimilated the ludic principle, widely interpreted, and have applied it to the classroom in three languages and literatures (Greek, English, French) for more than fifteen years now in American higher education, both public and private, with documented success, especially in Modern Greek language instruction and pedagogy. Teaching, for me, is, indeed, play and play is creativity, passion and experimentation with the unknown. The classroom dynamic has all the elements of play, emphasizing rules and constant interaction among all parties. Whether I teach Modern Greek, theatre, literary theory, comparative literature, cinema, reception of the Classics, world masterpieces, language, feminist theory, literary translation, or creative writing, I am a constant player/stage director in the classroom and the entire classroom is turned into the equivalent of a playground/laboratory where the learners’ creativity blossoms and where curiosity and critical thinking find unique ways of expression. I enjoy pushing the learners’ boundaries and engaging them in collaborative efforts that are rewarding in themselves, creating a feeling of pleasurable learning, while adequately preparing them for the challenges of a global society. My role is that of a coach, leading learners to discover their potential in knowledge by their personal contribution to it. Perhaps, like another Socrates, I long to stimulate them to find their own hidden gems of knowledge. My innovative approach, enhanced by technology and the integration of the arts --strongly encouraged at Harvard--, always embraces a comparative scope that crosses disciplines and exceeds cultural boundaries.
In terms of Modern Greek language pedagogy, I have extensive and substantial experience, as I have dedicated the last fifteen years of my scholarly engagement to Modern Greek Language instruction and pedagogy under multiple capacities such as the following: as the Vice-President of the American Association of Teacher’s of Modern Greek, co-founder of the ACTFL Modern Greek Special Interest Group, co-Chair of the Committee on the National Standards on Modern Greek Language, a member of the MGSA Committee on Innovation and the MGSA Committee on Undergraduate Research, a Research Fellow on Modern Greek Language Pedagogy and Literature of the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, a certified attendant of the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview and a Supervisor of Modern Greek Teaching Fellows and Teaching Assistants at Harvard. Therefore, I am always on top of current scholarship in the profession and I have contributed numerous original papers in major international conferences dedicated to language instruction, as well as to the decision-making policies in higher education. Furthermore, since 2008 I have developed at Harvard a video-performance project-based proficiency learning method, samples of which are available at the Harvard Language Resource Center or can be sent upon request. Also, the following link offers a glimpse at the innovative teaching method that I employ at Harvard:
In short, as one of my students wrote, “Vassiliki is not only an artful teacher, but she turns her classes into masterpieces.” Such is indeed my well-documented successful approach to teaching, as it has been informed by the latest practices in the profession and my constant active scholarly engagement in language pedagogy. It aims at the formation of well-rounded personalities, critical thinkers and problem-solvers, ready to face the challenges of a global world, while activating their creative imagination that offers them a sense of fulfillment.
In conclusion, my commitment to research and to public humanities in a global society, combined with my creative work (poetry, poetry translation and performance, playwriting) and zeal to share with others what inspires me in life motivates my work as a teacher and educator. It is my firm belief that turning the classroom into a constant laboratory where experiential learning occurs that maximizes the learner’s motivation and desire for collaboration, becomes indeed art that has a lifelong transformational impact on every student’s profile.