Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach

Teacher of the Year; Student for Life


I couldn’t let one of my bosses interview my favorite prof. without at least mentioning it here. Especially since it is relevant to this blog, which was supposed to deal with teaching and learning simultaneously but has turned into random insights, lessons, and recipes from my life. Either way, this applies.

To read the full post, click here.

Here are a few highlights from the interview:

Why do you want to teach college students?

“They don’t know everything.  By that I mean that I might have something to say to them whereas others would be bored.  But it also means that they are ready to learn.  Most of them do not have their minds made up.  This is true both doctrinally as well as vocationally.  I would love to influence them to make lifetime choices that honor God.  Of course I reject the notion that there is any job where one cannot honor God…”

Outside of God-given ability, what characterizes the best students?  What have been some of your own goals and priorities as you’ve become a student again after being a full-time teacher?

“… Wise students think ahead.  They realize that the class they are in is not (usually) worthless and something to be checked off the list.  Instead, they consider the class an investment in their future.  In this analogy, the student is like the bank and the teacher is handing out cash.  If the student puts the cash in the bank, he will reap dividends for a lifetime.  If the student doesn’t listen real well, chooses to take minimal notes, and has a ‘get by’ attitude, the bank will be as empty as when he began and a high interest rate on an empty bank account pays nothing.  An irony here, of course, is that the student is actually emptying his financial bank to take the course, and he who graduates with both “accounts” empty is a real fool.”

“Yes, I’m a full-time student again after teaching for many years.  But in some ways I never stopped being a student, and so the transition is not that hard.  A primary commitment that I have made is to take good notes.  I failed to do this in college, and I have really regretted that.  But since then, I write down everything in class.  I have doctoral seminars now, sometimes with 10 other students who themselves are preparing to teach, and oftentimes I’m the only one taking notes.  Maybe they have good memories (I do not!), but so many times I have been thankful that I have it all written down.”

What would be your top three practical tips to students at any level of academic training (college and above)?

  1. “Figure out who the best teachers are and take their classes.”
  2. “Take good notes.  I said it above, but I can’t omit it here.”

Many thanks to the interviewer and the interviewee :).


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