On Life and Love

Thinking about teaching

I remember that during my last two years of high school, I spent a good bit of time analyzing relationships. I looked at my parents, at Michael and Jenny, at other acquaintances and friends that I saw with (or without) significant others, and I questioned what I wanted and didn’t want in a relationship.

Some of the conclusions were rather obvious–keep communication lines open, be willing to apologize, don’t hold grudges, etc. Stuff great for life in general and crucial for long-term relationships. I looked to define the balance that I would want with a significant other–how much imbalance in intelligence could I handle? In money-making ability? In interests? In impulsiveness?

Nothing was set in stone, of course, but it was the first time I’d made myself very aware of relationships and the role I might play in them.

Recently, I’ve been doing something similar with teaching. My current plans include going to graduate school and having a career as a professor/teacher and researcher.

I’ve been looking at my professors–especially my computer science professors–and thinking about what I like and don’t like. Not the little annoying things like, “Wow, he dresses funny,” but the more important things, like, “Why have things due at midnight when you (the professor) won’t look at them until the next day? Have things due before you arrive to work in the morning!” If you know students are likely to be shuffling their schedules to get multiple projects from multiple classes done, give them the opportunity to pull an all nighter on the due date if they need or want to. It’s their lack of sleep.

Then there are the analyses of teaching styles–“That class would be great if instead of lecturing sleepily about blah-blah, he interjected a couple of anecdotes and engaged the class by [etc., etc.].”

I see so many good and bad things in the pedagogical techniques of my professors. I want to learn why they do what they do and apply my own thoughts and knowledge to teaching.

We had a discussion in my Great Papers in CS and SE class in which I discovered how little some people feel they are getting out of their education. They don’t feel they’re getting problem-solving skills. They think they know everything already except for language XYZ, which the next course will teach them. They take the majority of their classes just for the sheet of paper they’ll get their senior year.

I was shocked speechless, that people I know would hold such views and would go through life shooting for sheets of paper. Where is the interest? Where is the passion? I want to combat that as an instructor.


  • jed

    did I ever mention that you are a really interesting person?
    I should hang out with you more often.

  • Lissa

    Thank you, Jed. You’re a pretty fascinating person yourself. And yes, we should hang out more often.

  • Michael

    I wanna hang out too! I can second a lot of the sentiments you’ve written here, I want to be a professor!