My teaching philosophy is based on what students actually learn, both inside and outside of class, and on what they actually can accomplish after applying the knowledge and analytical framework they have achieved by taking my classes. This means that instead of me just being an “information giver,” and students simply being “information receivers,” I believe in “active-experiential learning,” where the student goes beyond the passive learning of merely reading assignments, listening and taking notes during lectures, and then memorizing and regurgitating packaged information on an exam.
Although students still must intake information as a necessary first step in the learning process (reading, listening, and memorizing), students must—beyond that, and much more importantly—“learn by doing;” that is, they must be given powerful analytical tools as a catalyst to respond competently when they are challenged to achieve the important learning objectives of the course. Students must be able to engage and perform in the critical analysis of the course, and even be able to create new relevant and effective paradigms of analysis, often through realistic role-plays and meaningful simulations.
In short, there is an old adage in teaching that I believe in: A true educator, instead of trying to be an entertaining “sage on the stage,” should instead strive to be a helpful “guide on the side.” Teaching should be all about the students, and their performance; not all about professors, and their performance.
I also believe in using visual learning technology and kinetic demonstrative teaching in the classroom to complement what is being said during class so as to provide greater clarity in class. It often reinforces learning and retention when students can simultaneously see and hear complex concepts as those concepts are considered.
For more on this topic please see my law review article: Fred Galves, “Will Video Kill the Radio Star? Visual Learning and the Use of Display Technology in the Law School Classroom,” University of Illinois Journal of Law, Technology & Policy [a peer-reviewed, cross-disciplinary journal, with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications & Institute of Government and Public Affairs] (2004) (exploring learning theory and addressing the pedagogical benefits and critiques of teaching using display technology).
For the past 22 years, I have been a full-time, tenured law professor at Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento where I taught from 1993 until 2015. In addition to teaching at Pacific McGeorge, I also was a visiting professor at UC Davis Law School, King Hall, for the 1996-1997 academic year, and recently I again taught at UC Davis Law School both in the spring and in the fall semesters of 2014. I continue to teach at UC Davis in the International Program on a part-time basis.
Since 2000, I also have taught various course topics each summer for the UC Davis’ “USA Law Orientation Program” for foreign law students and attorneys. Throughout my career, my commitment to teaching has led me to teach various law and law-related courses both at the undergraduate level (Political Science and Economics) and at the graduate level (Law).
In addition to undergraduate teaching at Harvard University (Intro Level “Economics,” while I was a third-year law student) and at Colorado College (Political Science, “Law & Social Justice,” while a practicing attorney before I became a law professor, and later, “Diversity, Discrimination & The Law”), I have been a visiting law professor, as mentioned earlier, at U.C. Davis Law School (Davis, CA), Fordham Law School (New York City), Southwestern University Law School (Los Angeles), and Denver University Sturm College of Law (Colorado), primarily teaching “Evidence,” “Civil Procedure,” and “Computer-Assisted Litigation.”