Over the past few weeks I’ve had three colleagues share some terrific creative things they’ve done in their classes. One had their students play a game, one had their students make a movie, and one hosted a radio call-in show.
All semester long, my students have been working hard on research projects. They’ve passed in multiple drafts, incorporated much written and verbal feedback, and last week they all got to share their work with their classmates during our first ever digital poster session. I thought it was a rousing success.
Donald Kagan, the Yale Sterling Professor of Classics and History, has been one of the world’s leading scholars of the ancient Greeks for almost 50 years. He’s published numerous books on the subject and has been teaching at Yale since 1969. In this episode he shares his opinions on a wide range of topics including what makes a great lecture and his unique approach to teaching seminars.
Every year for the last five years I’ve advised two or three students writing senior essays. During that time I’ve noticed there are two types of student: Those who plug away the whole year (Type A) and those who have a lot of distractions during the year and end up cramming at the end (Type B). It turns out that the advising approach I’ve been using only works well for the type A students.
On Tuesday, as part of Faculty Bulldog Days, I walked into Cathy Nicholson’s ENGL 200, “Shakespeare’s Comedies and Romances”. It was the first time in my six years at Yale that I’ve set foot in an undergraduate classroom that wasn’t my own. I quietly chose a desk off to the side, gave Cathy a quick hello wave, and settled in for 50 minutes of learning.
Mr. Quinn was my favorite high school math teacher. He was quintessentially nerdy cool. He would roller-skate to school, he had a calculator case on his belt, and he knew how to use a slide rule. I also thought he was brilliant. We all did. He seemed to know everything there was to know about math and could answer almost any question we asked. In part that was because he had heard them all before, but we didn’t know that. He taught my freshman geometry class, my junior pre-calculus class, and was the advisor (head coach?) for the math team.
At the end of their second year of graduate school, many PhD students take comprehensive exams. These tests make sure that everyone has adequately mastered the discipline’s canon and is ready to embark on their dissertation. Law students, architecture students, accounting students, and medical students also take comprehensive exams before they are allowed to practice their crafts. I believe there would be big benefits to many undergraduates taking similar exams before getting their bachelor’s degrees.