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Teaching Thoughts

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You may have seen this article in which Theda Skocpol called for a greater emphasis on teaching at Harvard. MMF has interesting commentary. It’s always been strange to me–especially in disciplines with large numbers of undergraduate majors–how little emphasis is placed on teaching for advancement. (One would think, at least, that departments would strive for balance–some great teachers, some great researchers–but in many places it seems as if tenure cases are evaluated among similar criteria, with the latter getting much more emphasis. Of course, research is also much easier to evaluate.) One place where my experience is different than Aspazia is that I had a lot of mentors at grad school who were excellent teachers and put a lot of work into it–more than would be strictly justified by a purely material cost-benefit ratio–and I learned a lot from them. As an international student, I also benefited from more training and systematic feedback than a graduate student instructor usually receives.

See also A White Bear, who has interesting thoughts about the relationship between teachers and students and the language of contracts.

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