Peter Gardner

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Career Highlights
  • Author of various articles on literature, writing, film, music, and English as a second language
  • Author of the college textbook New Directions: An Integrated Approach to Reading, Writing, and Critical Thinking
  • Former instructor of English at Boston University, Austro-American Society, and Language Institute of Japan
  • Trainer of teachers and students in intercultural communication in Europe, India, and East and Southeast Asia
  • Former clarinet instructor and performer in the U.S. and Europe
  • B.A., Harvard College, english
  • M.M., Vienna Conservatory of Music, clarinet
  • M.Ed., Boston University
  • Ph.D studies, Fribourg University, Switzerland, intercultural communication
In Their Own Words

"In all of my classes (English as a Second Language, Writing and Communication, Literature, Fiction and Film, and Intercultural Communication), I try to promote the individual growth of students: intellectual, emotional, ethical, and creative. I take a personal approach to teaching, treating my students as individuals and trying to help them in individual ways. In education, as in life, one size never fits all. As a teacher, I see myself as a coach or facilitator—a guide on the side and not a sage on the stage. I encourage a respect for diverse opinions, perspectives, and backgrounds, while challenging students to question their own preconceptions and to reinterpret old habits, views, and biases (their own as well as those of others). I try to make education as engaging and relevant as possible, stressing connections among the arts and relating course material to students' personal and professional interests and concerns. Learning should always be active and interactive—an ongoing adventure filled with challenge, excitement, and wonder."

"I try to foster a sense of honesty, tolerance, passion, and social responsibility in my students. Stressing the development of critical and creative thinking skills, I encourage clarity, precision, and originality of thought in writing and speech; the ability to ask relevant questions and solve problems; an openness to new ideas and experiences; and a flexibility of mind that allows one to view topics from multiple perspectives and see connections. Aiming to help students expand their horizons, I urge them to shoot for the moon, knowing that if they fall short, they'll still learn a lot in the process. I continually emphasize a respect for individual and cultural diversity and encourage students from different countries to interact with, and learn from, each other. I try to help my students view the world with compassion, fight injustice whenever possible, and heed the words of the great writer and social activist James Baldwin: 'Artists are here to disturb the peace.'"

"Having a dual background in music and education strongly informs my approach to teaching. As a performing artist myself for many years, I understand intimately the competing interests of music students, the need to balance spontaneity and discipline in one's art, and the importance of a liberal arts education in a musician's life. Having spent many years studying, performing, and teaching in different countries, I also feel passionate about the need to develop an appreciation for cultural diversity and an intercultural awareness that will help students interact successfully with people around the world and become engaged and responsible global artists. My academic research over many years in the areas of second language acquisition, intercultural communication, writing, and film continually informs my thinking about ways to get students actively involved in, and excited about, learning."

"The Liberal Arts curriculum at Berklee helps foster this enthusiasm for learning. Interdisciplinary classes engage students in a wide variety of subjects, while promoting individual growth and freedom, artistic collaboration, ethical leadership, innovation, and respect for diversity. Encouraging the exploration of ideas and their open expression, liberal arts classes cultivate the critical and creative thinking necessary for success in an increasingly complex and interrelated world. As students investigate the social, cultural, political, economic, and historical forces shaping their lives, they learn more about themselves and the world around them. Liberal arts classes help develop inquisitive and probing minds that are able to discriminate between opinion and fact, detect fallacies in reasoning, evaluate according to different criteria, and view reality from various vantage points. Actively participating in the world of ideas expands students' creativity and artistic intelligence and helps them become informed global citizens able to use their music as a vehicle for social change."