teaching and humanities

Dianna L. Bourke dlb17 at PSU.EDU
Tue Mar 19 20:50:17 EST 1996

Erica said

>On high school biology teachers:  I agree that requiring an advanced
>degree is not a great idea.  Isn't part of the the major problem that
>great researchers don't necessarily know how to teach?  I agree that the
>problem is keeping up.  Why do doctors who finished medical school 20
>years ago take continuing education?  I think requiring continuing
>education for high school science teachers through the use of workshops,
>courses and short sabbaticals could really help.
>I also think that requiring more teacher education for researchers and
>grad students could really help.
>In addition, how about rewarding teachers for participating in said
>courses with bonuses, raises and decent classroom equipment?

I agree that all teachers including university professors should be
required to keep up with new developments and that these efforts should be
supported by the administration, but I do not agree that requiring an
advanced degree "is a major part of the problem" with bad teaching.  By no
means should it be assumed that great reasearchers can't teach. This just
buys into the old saying about "those that can't..... teach." My tenant has
always been that if you understand a topic well enough, you should be able
to break it down into its simplest elements and explain it in everyday
terms that students can relate to. Unfortunately this assumes that the
teacher is living in the here and now and is not existing in an alternate

It is true that graduate school often has no teaching preparation for the
students. Such "throw the TAs off the end of the dock" mentality is totally
wrong and I have said so for years. It wasn't until after I got my first
teaching position, that I had ever heard about learning theory. I realized
that I had been doing some things correctly over the years, but it was
through trial and error and instinct. Stupid way for an academic scientist
to do things!
>Last question in this long post:  How many of you out there in
>universities with medical schools see great rivalries between the Bio
>dept. and the medical school, even at the expense of the students?  If
>the topic develops, I'll send in some of my lovely experiences in this area.

I haven't seen much in the way or rivalry exactly, typically the med school
departments think that they are superior, though. In some ways they are,
and are often funded more extensively, but comparing the two are often like
comparing apples and oranges. For instance, the med schools are all about
getting big grants from the NIH in health related areas. Generally it
wouldn't even cross their minds to approach the NSF, which has a totally
differnt mission. I have had to make a distinct adjustment since moving to
a small undergraduate campus, and trying to adjust my research to more
basic science questions that would come under the auspices of NSF.

Come on, dish about the rivalries!

Dianna L. Bourke
Penn State Hazleton

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