Year Awarded: 2004
College of Engineering and Computer Science
A "teaching philosophy" is a set of general principles used to guide practice. Mine is mostly second hand; some of it is gained by the many good teachers that I encountered in my education and some of it shaped by the insistent and critical students I have taught since first entering a college classroom as an instructor in 1988.
Teaching is a craft. Like any manual craft, it deals with tasks that must be done and re-done every day. Each day of teaching brings failures, accomplishments, crises and delightful surprises. But it is always difficult. No class, no lecture, no assignment is ever perfect. Only with great effort can they be made acceptable. Let attention slip and you get a disaster. Try too hard and you get worn out. Pace, patience and attention to detail get you through, more or less. Conversely, teaching is not mysterious, grand, a science or a set of solutions to the problems of ignorance.
Teaching and learning go together but they are done by different people and, thus, the match is incomplete. Learning can happen without teaching and teaching can happen without learning. If I teach well, you will learn; but my teaching won't make you learn. It will only open opportunities for you to learn. But if I teach and you don't learn, I have failed in some way. I'll be tempted sorely to say it's your fault, but if I do that and believe it , my chances to improve the practice of my craft are over. Teaching is not the transmission of information, culture, va