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What teaching means to me

posted Jul 11, 2012, 12:32 PM by Sarah Guthals   [ updated Jul 11, 2012, 1:11 PM ]
I think it is a very relevant and important concept to think about...teaching...

When I think of teaching I don't think about standing in front of a lecture hall talking at students, though I think most people who are actively involved in improving their teaching don't think that way either. I think of engaging students in complex concepts and guiding them in experiencing those concepts in such a way that they will understand them enough to discuss them. It is critical, when learning, to not only understand something, but to understand it in such depth that you can talk about it with others, explain it to others and apply it to completely different contexts. 

There were times in undergrad (and grad school) that I would get frustrated because my instructor would teach us something in one context, and then test us on it in another context. I didn't understand how they expected us to know how to apply the concept in other contexts if we had always thought about it one way. Looking back I realize that I *should* have been able to apply the concepts I "learned" in new contexts, but that the instructor also should have encouraged us to explore the concepts in other contexts. This brings me to my second observation on teaching: instructors should make their goals for the students clear to the students. Perhaps it is just me (though I highly doubt this), but in my early adult education (end of high school, undergrad) I didn't understand what it meant to learn something. I thought that I should only learn what would be directly relevant to me and the rest I just needed to pass