UDM is Teaching

University Teaching

Teachers want students to learn.

There is probably no greater joy for a real teacher than moments when students "get it" and a light goes on in their eyes. It's a noble ideal and explains a lot of what motivates teachers to work hard at course designs, grading assignments, and being available to students.

Students also want to get good grades and a valuable degree.

It's not quite the same dream as the teacher's love of learning. Shakespeare was probably right: "knowledge maketh a bloody entrance." --The point is not that students are lazy and unmotivated and teachers are generous, wise and kind. They both have good days and bad days. The point is that the university deliberately manages powerful tensions that are part of teaching and learning.

Consider a few of those tensions.

Students and faculty bring a lot to school; they bring their lives; their hopes, their disappointments, their fears, their biases. The whole tangle of the human condition comes into the classroom or the lab along with the deep hope that studying and teaching are worth the hard work required

Students bring knowledge about the way the world is today. Teachers learn from students and students learn from teachers.

Teachers need to encourage and mentor and also to say tough things when a student's work isn't up to standard. It is a source of tension.

Teachers give students grades evaluating their work. Grades matter and they had better be accurate and fair. That's why universities require their faculty to be competent in their fields. No research, no credibility in the classroom.

Which is more important? Teaching as mentoring or teaching as evaluating? They are both important. If a university faculty is excellent at caring for students and being available to students but is not excellent in the research leading edges of their areas of expertise, the university is failing its students. A university faculty excellent in research but uncaring about students fails equally. This tension makes a university what it is meant to be.

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