Home > Books, Career > Professors and (not) teaching

Professors and (not) teaching

Last week I had a personal first – I stopped by a professor’s office and asked to borrow a book – any book.  I figured that I’d be traveling a lot, she’s interested in the things I’m interested in, and she has an office full of books with cool titles.  The one she chose for me was Teaching to Transgress by bell hook, a professor of English at some big name colleges and universities.

The book explores a philosophy of teaching that challenges the “bank model” of education, which puts knowledge in students so it can be withdrawn later.  Instead, she’s spent her career looking for a way to engage college students in real learning, thinking, questioning and enjoyment within the classroom.  Throughout the book she expresses her dismay that so few of her university colleagues share her interest in pedagogy or even value quality teaching from others.

In reading the book, I was reminded of a conversation with my college roommate and her husband about being students.  I mentioned a classmate who said the class was moving at a snail’s pace because the students’ comments were getting responses far more thoughtful than they deserved.  My friend’s husband responded that he understood why a teacher might do that, because in the one semester his grad program made him TA, he was incredibly grateful for any student who said anything in class.  It turns out that in this semester as a TA he was in a subject outside of his field, had no training for the job, and no interest in doing it.  Had he taken his Ph.D. and gone into academia instead of industry, that would have been his sole teaching experience prior to being a real professor.

Something’s wrong here.  [time]

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