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.
For the past three years, Bo Hopkins has taught two of the most engaging and creative classes offered at Yale. In the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, he taught “Social Enterprise in Developing Economies,” and in Engineering and Applied Science he is co-teaching (with Joe Zinter) “Appropriate Technology for the Developing World.” Bo talks with us about these two classes and how his teaching is informed by his real-world experience with direct equity investments.
Every spring admitted students flood Yale’s campus for Bulldog Days: A three day event where they check out the scene and figure out if Yale is a good fit for them. One of the key components is attending real Yale classes with current Yale students. Scott Strobel, deputy provost for teaching and learning, has always been a little jealous of these incoming students, and one of his first initiatives as deputy provost has been to create Faculty Bulldog Days, a week when faculty open their classrooms up to their colleagues.
The world you live in is your own invention. You can wake up in the morning and hate the cold, and worry you won’t get your work done. Or you can choose to revel in the world’s possibilities. Seize the day! Don’t get bogged down striving for wealth, fame, or power! Spend your time making people smile!
In this episode we talk with Jenny Frederick, the Executive Director of Yale’s Center for Teaching and Learning. She tells us about her own formative experiences in the classroom, and how the new center brings together several existing organizations on campus to help students, train beginning teachers, and support established faculty.