Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The power of a great teacher.

This lovely WSJ essay about a great teacher (here) triggered a couple of thoughts:

(1) I still believe that it's possible (and more common than people might think) to be a strong scholar and a strong teacher, but I'm glad that people who have particular strengths can get rewarded for doing what they love.  The essay reminded me about one of my favorite teachers at Rice, Dennis Huston, who took my breath away when I was a student.  First, he intimidated me; then he challenged me; then he encouraged me.  So many students loved him, in fact, that when he needed blood transfusions, several alumni lined up for the privilege of helping.  Want to get a glimpse of this marvelous professor?  See here.

(2) We need to remember that great teaching can have the same ripple effects as great scholarship.  Yes, great scholarship can live on long after the author has died; but great teaching gets carried on, person to person, as well.  (The opposite is also true:  weak scholarship doesn't even make a ripple, and weak teaching does nothing to enrich students' lives after the course is over.)

What a great opportunity for us to thank the great teachers in our lives!