Bringing theories to life through story-telling is central to Chris Bowden’s approach to teaching.
“You can teach theory, you can show research and you can try to explain concepts—but unless you can relate it in some way to the real world, it’s difficult for a lot of students to understand,” he says.
Chris teaches courses in Education offered by the School of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy in the Bachelor of Arts programme. His teaching style is informed by his work in the community as a grief educator and researcher, and in suicide prevention.
Chris, who has been awarded a 2012 Victoria University Teaching Excellence Award, says students need to be aware of, and think critically and creatively about, wider community, national and international issues. They also need to learn how to respond to and resolve those issues.
“I try to create learning experiences that push the boundaries of my students’ comfort zones so that they have to go away and think about how they would respond,” he says.
“I want students to have the skills and knowledge to be able to work effectively and ethically with people.”
Chris believes universities need to have a direct relationship with communities because students and universities are part of them, and hold knowledge that can benefit them.
Chris embodies his beliefs. Last year, he ran a series of education workshops in the Wairarapa for parents wanting to learn more about supporting at-risk teenagers. He shared evidence-based practice with them, but also learnt from them about the realities and challenges parents, schools and communities face.
“My work in the community gives me a lot of material that I can use in my teaching, and I think the students really benefit from that.”