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  • A Terrible Teacher

    Posted on April 12th, 2019 admin No comments

    I once had a terrible university prof. Instead of teaching the course, he just listed study after study that we had to memorize. There seemed to be no order; just random studies. Many of his students were failing the course and considering lodging a complaint to the dean. I actually loathed the man.

    A few students were managing passing grades. I approached them and asked what they were doing. Their answer was that they carefully noted the order in which the studies were presented and on exams carefully regurgitated them in that precise order.

    One day, around mid-term, it occurred to me that each study either blocked off a false line of inquiry or led to another approach…which the next study either blocked or clarified. The studies were arranged with an inexorable logic like bricks building a wall.

    It was an innovative and unusual teaching method, with the students left to figure it out or not.

    The professor never explained this (would have made sense to have done so, and certainly helped his class) but once I understood what he was doing, I began to get top marks in the class. Not only could I recite the studies in the proper order, I was able to explain the logic and order and what each study contributed to the growing body of theory.

    Once I had “got it”, we got along a bit better. He turned out to be like Dr. Cooper on “Big Bang Theory”, a brilliant man with quirky social (and teaching) skills who later became my mentor for my Honors Thesis.

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