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Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Teach It, Then Read It
I am happy to report that I have just put the finishing touches on my second syllabus, a true labor of love. It is for a course I've always wanted to teach but have never had the opportunity to teach until this semester. The syllabus is good, if I may say so: the course is challenging for upper-division students (it is a seminar for juniors and seniors), the assignments are meaningful (and not only for this course), the readings are timely and significant, and the overall topic is simply good, complicated, nerdy fun.

I felt very "professorly" as I was putting this together, realizing that I hadn't read some of the pieces I was assigning for my students. It was fun to search through major journals that I knew published solid work on this topic and select articles I thought might be interesting. Skimming the articles, it was nice to know that I was educated enough to determine if my students could benefit from them just by reading the abstracts. The entire time I thought back to one of the exclamations of my favorite professor in graduate school. When asked if he'd read an important article in our discipline, he responded, "Read it? I haven't even taught it yet!"
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 8/29/2006 12:51:00 AM  
4 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 11:31 AM, Blogger betty said…

    ugh blogger just at my comment. will try to recreate it here....

    i loved this post! i taught a course once where i took students to our departmental seminar series where invited speakers talked to an audience mostly consisting of grad students, post-docs and professors. to prepare my students (undergrads) i chose recently published articles by the speakerrs for my students to read and discuss. since the speakers are invited by everyone in the department they work on a variety of topics - most way outside my feild of expertise. it was so much fun trying to find cool articles and then reading them myself before class. the best thing that happened in this course was that my students saw that even professors don't know everything and that it's ok to admit that. they also saw how i approached these situations and figured something out that wasn't clear to me. it was really fun!

    even without moments like these i'm sure your class will be fun too. here's to hoping you have great students!

  • At 2:59 PM, Blogger phd me said…

    Thanks for the reminder that I am somewhat competent! I added a lot of skimmed articles to the course I just created - makes me feel better to know this is the way of the educated folk. :)

  • At 6:17 PM, Blogger ArticulateDad said…

    The biggest laugh I had as a graduate student was having taken classes from two different professors (one at my institution; the second a visitor from elsewhere teaching as part of a summer institute). They were both quite well known in their fields, prominent, with diametrically opposed viewpoints. I wanted to learn what I could from each, in order best to make up my mind.

    The amusing part was that they both had very similar teaching styles, assigning such an inordinately, and absurdly large mass of readings that it would impossible for anyone to read them all in the time allotted (10 weeks in the first case; 3 weeks in the second). We're talking perhaps 5000 pages each!

    I was amused because it was as if they both wished to silence any criticism that might be waged from students by overwhelming them with a mass of literature, tacitly implying once you've read it all, you can ask questions.

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