Friday, December 16, 2011

The ultimate purpose of your teaching

There is an excellent New York Times online article What is College For? by Gary Gutting.
Here are just a few quotes to stimulate you to read the whole article.
the university curriculum leaves students disengaged from the material they are supposed to be learning.  They see most of their courses as intrinsically “boring,” of value only if they provide training relevant to future employment or if the teacher has a pleasing (amusing, exciting, “relevant”) way of presenting the material. As a result, students spend only as much time as they need to get what they see as acceptable grades (on average, about 12 to 14 hour a week for all courses combined).  Professors have ceased to expect genuine engagement from students and often give good grades (B or better) to work that is at best minimally adequate. ....
the raison d’être of a college is to nourish a world of intellectual culture; that is, a world of ideas, dedicated to what we can know scientifically, understand humanistically, or express artistically. 
Teachers need to see themselves as, first of all, intellectuals, Students, in turn, need to recognize that their college education is above all a matter of opening themselves up to new dimensions of knowledge and understanding.  
 It is more a matter of students moving beyond their interests than of teachers fitting their subjects to interests that students already have.   Good teaching does not make a course’s subject more interesting; it gives the students more interests — and so makes them more interesting.
I thank my lovely wife for bringing the article to my attention.

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