Faculty Who Care
Thomas R. Davis, Jr.
Assoc. Professor, English
Thomas Davis is an associate professor of English within the School of Humanities and Sciences. Prior to joining the Central Penn family in the fall of 2012, Davis was supervisor of the English and World Languages department for a virtual high school serving students across the U.S. and China. He began teaching college courses in English at Luzerne County Community College in 2005, working there as an adjunct instructor and advisor of the Northumberland chapter of the college’s literary arts club until summer of 2012. During that time, Davis also spent four years teaching English in an alternative high school, along with online courses in writing and communications at Ottawa University and the University of Phoenix. As an undergraduate, Davis won two scholarships from the Department of English at Bloomsburg University. He also was twice a co-winner of the Bailee award for the critical essay, and he spent three semesters as head tutor at the university writing center. As a graduate student, Davis assisted Dr. M.H. Fereshteh by editing classroom materials as well as offering feedback and revision suggestions on Dr. Fereshteh’s then forthcoming textbook. Davis is currently completing coursework and working toward a Ph.D in Instructional Design and Technology through Keiser University, where he hopes to synthesize his interests in post-modernism, composition pedagogy, and educational technology. He is currently a member of the National Council of Teacher of English (NCTE) and the National Education Association (NEA). Davis also serves as co-advisor of The Central Pen Literary E-Zine, secretary of Faculty Senate, and member of the Program Advisory Committee for Keystone Technical Institute
In my spare time, I enjoy reading, playing electric guitar, playing a few video games, watching a few choice television programs (Netflix, with its collection of episodes of Family Guy and Futurama, is pure evil), and spending time with friends and family. Oh, and also baseball--lots of baseball--preferably Orioles baseball. My afternoons are typically spent walking my Basset Hound, Lucy, around various nature parks and preserves in PA. I also must cater to the whims of my feisty feline, Spike.
Traditionally, I’ve always identified myself as a constructivist, and I’ve always tried to ground my approaches to teaching in best practices of both pedagogy and andragogy. However, in reflecting on my teaching over the years, I’ve learned that I don’t approach education from any one school or direction, but instead couch my method in post-Modernism, using an amalgam of techniques culled from various books, research articles, and, perhaps most importantly, experiences with diverse student populations within the classroom. I strive to maintain a balance between being a traditional lecturer and a facilitator of critical and original thinking. My stance as an educator has been one of empowerment rather than knowledge preservation, and my classroom practices support this aim.
I strive to design curricula and educational experiences that raise critical consciousness, that power to question the status quo and postulate alternative solutions that are more inclusive of the dissensus brought about by homogeneity. Teaching and curriculum need to give equal weight to competing narratives and empower educators “to change and reform schools so that they are not agencies designed to create a great mass of like-minded people, driven by the appetite to consume” (Gutek, 2004, p. 315). Education as preservation seems to lead to stasis, allowing for hegemonies to take root and soothe the masses.
The teacher’s role from my perspective is not final arbiter of meaning or “sage on the stage.” Teachers are to be facilitators, encouraging figures that create inclusive classrooms where the sharing of conflicting points of view acts as a catalyst for constructing knowledge. Critical theorists posit that “values are not imposed by those in power but result from the communal interface and sharing by individuals whose voices have an equal right to be heard” (Gutek, 2004, p. 317). Thus, in my classroom students play the role of skeptics rather than passive subjects into whom timeless knowledge flows. This existentialist moment of uncertainty is what empowers learners to make their own meanings, the strength of which they must base on critically-informed objectivity—the hallmark of critical thinking and a bulwark against false consciousness and docility.