Category Archives: Teaching

Scientific methods

I basically stopped writing this blog last quarter, because I wanted to write about teaching, but I fell into an ethical conundrum: is it fair to write about experiences involving other people in real-time, if they don’t know that they are being written about—even if you leave names out of it?  I’m not even sure that the timing matters; it seems a strange thing to write about other people regardless of whether it’s real time or not, although relating stories about “Funny things that happened to me in the past” already lends distance to the stories, right?  Somehow, writing about past events seems less like nosily intruding on everyone else.

And with teaching, of course, there’s always the possibility that my students (hi, guys!) will find the blog entries and learn more about what I think of the class, or what I’m planning to do with it, than I might normally tell them.  I have to admit, I’m still experimenting on my students, finding what works and what doesn’t, but I’m not necessarily sharing all of the details of the experiments with the subjects—doesn’t that change the results? Continue reading

Zombie professor sez: fresh young mindzzzzzzzzzz

I really enjoy teaching—it might be that I’m a little spoiled, that the students at the U of C are unusually talkative and involved, but I really enjoy fostering discussion amongst a group of young ‘uns ready to explore our work.  I have a good group of students this quarter, with perhaps more than the usual number of talkative kids, but yet no one who is trying to dominate the room.  Everyone is respectful, and they are starting to learn to address each other, which I think is important.

On the first day, I explained a little bit about my teaching philosophy, that I will be steering the ship, but that I won’t let the conversation always be moderated by me.  I have attended (and disliked) “discussion” classes with professors who ask leading questions for which there is a right answer, which the students must find and present to the professor.  The discussion ends up being a back-and-forth between usually one (maybe two) students and the professor, while other students watch from the sidelines, answer different questions later, thereby reorienting the back-and-forth with the professor to a new side of the room.  I’m in charge, I keep us on task—but I want the students to talk to each other, too.  And after only two discussions, they’re starting to do it! And to address each other by name! Continue reading