Learning to Think

Some thoughts on teaching at university lifted from my comment on Boing Boing:

1. A large chunk of first year students don’t really know why they are there. Many of them decide they shouldn’t be, so the second years and onward tend to be more involved. Therefore, first year lecturing can be pretty unrewarding.

2. On the other side of the coin, I certainly remember some bad lectures when I was in first year — many lecturers simply showed up and read the notes verbatim. I ended up attending 2 hours a week and reading the notes myself. The response the next year wasn’t to make the lectures better, but to make attendance compulsory. Oops.

3. Realise that your expectations of your students are likely based on your experiences as a student. Since you went on to become a lecturer, you were probably at the top of the class and are *not* representative of the average student. Lower your standards.

4. One big thing that has changed in university since I went through in the early 1990s is that students go to university expecting a job at the end. This is a mistake. Students, please:

If you want to be trained for a job, go to technical college.
If you want to learn how to think, go to university.

Teaching at both, the technical college did a much better job of teaching both design skills and use of software. The uni did a better job of broadening horizons. Pick your path accordingly.