Thursday, July 31, 2008

Your advice once again

Someone mentioned a book in the comments to the previous post, namely Teaching at University: A Guide for Postgraduates and Researchers by Kate Morss.

Would anybody suggest any other book recommendations on giving lectures, marking papers and such like?


At 8/01/2008 2:49 AM, Anonymous Judith said...

Hi, Chris--

James Lang's "On Course" was recently praised to me by a long-time teacher; the administration at my school is considering giving it to their first-time teachers. Haven't read it, but the Amazon description and brief look I got inside the book are promising.

At 8/01/2008 9:41 PM, Anonymous Brian Mooney said...

The old classic is Gilbert Highet's "The Art of Teaching" written in the 1950s; I think it is the best single book ever written on teaching, along with William James Talks to Teachers. Good used copies are available used or new on Amazon. Both of these are more general, but have helped (and inspired me) in 29 years of university teaching. Highet is soul-stirring, nourishing to your heart, and good for helping stoke the fires during a long semester; James is amazing in that he said so much in the 1890s that is still worthwhile. These are two great books by two truly great teachers.

(If you can't find a copy of Highet I'll gladly find and send you one. Just let me know.)

McKeachie's Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers (College Teaching) by Wilbert McKeachie and Marilla Svinicki or similar, earlier editions, have more nuts-and-bolts advice, very much to the point and based on experience an solid research. These are the books that will help you more in the day-to-day tasks.

I've always found Montaigne's Essays, to be read and savored over several years, had a lot to say about understanding human beings, a helpful thing in teaching.

Jesus has a lot to impart about teaching in the Gospels, as well, but I think we forget to read them that way. Highet, who was a fine classicist, doesn't ignore him.

Finally, John Henry Newman's The Idea of the University is a bigger project, but it has helped me formed my ideals about what I am actually supposed to be trying to do in the classroom.

I recommend these sources to you with all my heart, as a fellow teacher. They will not let you down.

At 8/02/2008 2:55 PM, Anonymous One of Freedom said...

For marking there is always the classic stair method.

1) gather up the papers.
2) climb a long, but straight, flight of stairs.
3) place papers in single pile at top.
4) launch papers so that they all begin sliding (smart students will use those slippery plastic folder covers).
5) survey the mess, if there are any monetary supplements appearing, gather them up and give that paper an extra little push.
6) mark from bottom of stairs to top. (Note: if too many papers make it all the way down (A+) then you might need larger stairs!)

Seriously, I'm not looking forward to the marking bit. I'm going to jot down book titles from the more serious comments.

I did look over your outline (last post) and I wondered if you might not have too much in there to do adequately, but then again it is an introductory course. The last class I taught was a highly technical course on Privilege Management through a Public Key Infrastructure. It was information overload so I'd take it easy, make sure that I covered the more pressing questions for the students and worked through the material.

How large is the class you are offering?

At 8/03/2008 6:07 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thanks so much for that book tip. I will follow it up.

THANKS so much for the info and the link. I will try to find those books. If I don't find the Highet, I really may follow you up on your kind offer! Thanks again.

"I recommend these sources to you with all my heart, as a fellow teacher. They will not let you down"

That means a lot. I take your recommendation to heart.

I will certainly do the stairs trick!

"How large is the class you are offering?"

No idea, as yet!

At 8/05/2008 4:28 AM, Anonymous Flint Cowboy said...

Looks like Judith, Brian, and One of Freedom gave you some excellent advice.

One thing I would add is thinking of the steps it takes to understand something. By the time you have made it through graduate school you might have forgotten how or when you learned the basics. Further, it probably came naturally for you, but won't for your students.

When I first took up gardening--I was the minister in a small town, in a farming community--I didn't know anything about it. The things I didn't know were so basic I the experienced gardeners wouldn't understand the questions if I knew how to ask them.

I remember asking people, "What do you do with a hoe." They gave me an incredulous look and said, "Well, you hoe your garden with it!"

I needed someone to tell me, "You hold it like this and you use it to scrape the surface of the soil to cut the weeds. Weeds are the plants between your vegetables that you didn't plant. You have to be careful not to cut your plants or their roots. Roots are the hairy parts under the ground that soak up the water and nutrients from the soil and feed the plant . . ."

At 8/05/2008 2:18 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Flint, a great analogy! I find the same from chess players. The really really good ones are often not the best teachers, but those who still remember what it is like to learn th ebasic-intermediate stuff.


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