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29 October 2011

Learning from Teaching

I was just reminded of a pretty pivotal moment in my life this morning. When I first started teaching as a grad student seven years ago, my perspective was completely reoriented. Every bit of media, every piece of information was analyzed for potential use in the classroom. I started recording television programs that looked even remotely interesting. I was achieving URL's to video clips and websites that seemed useful. Before that, I had been seeing the world as a student, but now, I see the world as a teacher of students. Interestingly, I've found that I've learned more as a teacher than I ever did or could have strictly as a student. One place where I noticed this acutely was in my writing. Before I became a teacher, I was a relatively poor writer, but once I started regularly grading others' writing, I noticed the problems and errors that we all are prone to make and was able to fix my style. Many people are critical of the graduate seminar approach to pedagogy in which the professor simply assigns topics and days for students to lead the class finding it lazy or expedient, but I wonder if there isn't perhaps something to that approach after all. Maybe by forcing our students to teach material, we can force them to learn better.

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