An Instructional Experience

I just finished my first term as a professor at Singapore Management University. I taught an undergraduate course called Computer as an Analysis Tool, which is on business modelling and data-driven decision support. I had about 130 Studenten, in three sections of three classroom hours each per week. Ich muss das Ganze sagen war eine sehr bereichernde Erfahrung,,en,die Gründe für diese Aussage wird dargelegt auf,,en,theoretisiert und stellten die Hypothese,,en,dies ist Unreal Blog,,en. Natürlich, the reasons behind this statement will be expounded on, theorized and hypothesized – this is Unreal Blog, schließlich.

First things first though. Although I wanted to write about my teaching experience a while ago, I thought I would wait till I got the student feedback first. Schließlich, students are the stakeholders, and my theories and hypotheses don’t mean much unless they felt that they derived some benefits out of my efforts. I was happy to see that I was rated well. Über 20% of my students gave me the highestExcellentrating across all the metrics. Über 30% gave meVery Goodand another 30% gave meGood.” Mit anderen Worten, an overwhelming 80% percent of my students rated me good or better. Erstaunlich, this rating extended even to my weakest pointsmy presentation and speaking skills. Dies, natürlich, was all extremely gratifying.

That was the good news. The bad news is that with that kind of positive rating, I was still in the bottom 15 zu 20% of all the instructors at my university! I think it speaks volumes of the quality of our professors, rather than the lack thereof in me. Mindestens, I would like to think so. Aber, as any of my college buddies would understand, it is psychiatrically dangerous for an IITian to find himself in the 20 percentile range in any cohort, unless the cohort happens to be an IIT class. So this anomaly will have to be rectified, and rectified it shall be, in the years to come.

Moving on to the theorywhy is teaching an enriching calling, noble even? I think it is because of the immediacy between the profession and its stakeholders. The students are right there in front of you. What they think of you and how they respond to your performance as a teacher is immediately obvious and felt. A similar kind of immediacy exists between doctors and patients too, Ich vermute. Probably between lawyers and their clients as well. But in teaching, you have a sense that you are influencing and shaping something bigger and much more permanent. You are influencing and orienting the arc of your studentslives, and by extension, that of a future generation, and hopefully your influence is a positive and constructive one. Auf jeden Fall, the projection of your tiny influences is huge down the road. This may be the reason why we still remember our good teachers, thirty or forty years on. This also is the reason why teaching is different from a corporate career, where the overall profit motive and monetary incentives may seem a bit less worthy, more transient and too extrinsic. Even research, while immensely gratifying in terms of knowledge generation, is a bit less worthy because your additions are minuscule. The arc that you are trying to shape and orient through your efforts bends but unwillinglyunless you are an Einstein or a Feynman.

On a different note, I think teaching suits me for an entirely separate reason related to my personality. It goes like this. We people are social beings, and we put our fellow beings in various categories, at varying emotional distances from us. We have spouses, immediate family members, friends, extended family, people of your religion, race, from your country and so on, for whom we have varying levels of concern and connection. For me, all these categories fall in a very narrow band of emotional distance. Verstehen Sie mich nicht falsch, I don’t think this is a great quality at all and I am certainly not recommending it to anybody. Tatsächlich, I think it makes personal connections and attachments almost impossible, diminishing (or even negating) the human condition that we are supposed to find ourselves in. Do not try this at home, for it’s lonesome road.

Aber, as luck would have it, my universal emotional distance happens to be almost exactly right for a teacher-student relationship. I am genuinely concerned about my students and their wellbeing. This concern of mine shone through in my interactions with them, and was reflected in their comments and feedback. I really want every single one of them to understand, lernen, do well and succeed. But this concern is confined to the narrow context of the classroom. It is a concern devoid of a sense of responsibility. A perfect combination, meiner Meinung nach.

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