In conclusion, I believe teachers have a duty to their profession, to their students, and to themselves. Fulfilling this duty requires that a teacher never stop learning, continues to evaluate his or her performance among colleagues and students, and leads by example inside and outside of the classroom. My relationships with my mentors, the teaching experiences I have gained, and the support I have found in my colleagues have all contributed to my pedagogical stance and goals. In sum, my philosophy is one which strives to give all students an equal opportunity to learn by promoting intellectual diversity in the various ways it manifests itself in academia. It is through my respect for intellectual diversity that I conduct myself in a professional manner to create a positive learning environment where students can develop their critical thinking skills. But the key to my philosophy rests on the idea that I must set high standards for students and for myself. I must lead by example for my students as my mentors did for me.
I have no doubt that most of the authors of those generic statements believe what they write, and do their best to live up to their principles. But I'm equally sure that, while a generic teaching statement won't hurt your job application or your tenure file, it won't do anything to help you, either. Its main effect will be to deepen the glaze on the eyes of readers—whether they are on a search committee or a tenure panel—who are slogging through statement after statement, searching for any evidence that will distinguish you from your fellow applicants.
Don’t make general statements such as “students don’t learn through lecture” or “the only way to teach is with class discussion.” These could be detrimental, appearing as if you have all of the answers. Instead, write about your experiences and your beliefs. You “own” those statements and appear more open to new and different ideas about teaching. Even in your own experience, you make choices about the best teaching methods for different courses and content: sometimes lecture is most appropriate; other times you may use service-learning, for example.