As part of the 2001 UBC Learning Conference, we asked UBC teaching award winners to talk about teaching. We share their comments with you here as "food for thought."
I am interested in helping students feel successful; to attempt to remove the comfort zone of the passive learner and to empower students to actively engage in their own learning as well as that of their peers. I use a combination of traditional and contemporary pedagogies to provide a learning opportunity that encourages "risk taking" in an atmosphere of fairness and safety, and challenges students to commit to their personal and professional development.
- Simon Albon, Pharmaceutical Sciences – Killam Teaching Award Winner
I believe passionately in David Suzuki’s notion of "the power of one," that I can make a difference in my work with prospective teachers and create a "ripple effect" in education. This means I have a responsibility to be a role model as a scholar, a teacher, and mentor to help my students implement informed and thoughtful teaching practices, build communities of inquirers in their classrooms and schools, and become lifetime learners through ongoing professional development and study.
- Marilyn Chapman, Language and Literacy Education – Killam Teaching Award Winner
You can teach anyone who is interested in teaching to be a good teacher: to set realistic objectives, to be well organized, to be clear …. What people who become truly exceptional teachers add to these basic skills is they really truly care that their students learn.
- Carol-Ann Courneya, Physiology – 3M and Killam Teaching Award Winner
An educated person is transformed by what she knows; it changes her outlook, her horizons, and her habits of mind. To teach someone is to participate consciously, and carefully, in that transformation.
- Linda Farr Darling, Curriculum Studies – Killam Teaching Award Winner
I let students know that in real life, there’s more than one right answer. My job is to teach them how to approach a problem – how to learn, not just what to learn.
- Mary Ensom, Pharmaceutical Sciences – Killam Teaching Award Winner
I emphasize clarity and planning. Equally important are a sense of humour and a courteous attitude.
- Keith Farquhar, Law – Killam Teaching Award Winner
Of all the things I do at UBC, the thing I enjoy most is teaching first-year courses. A first-year course is not just an introduction to some subject – it is also an opportunity for the instructor to introduce students to his or her passion for that subject. I have been teaching History 125 off and on for twenty-five years, but I always try to teach it as if I am doing it for the first time. UBC is a big place, but it need not be an impersonal one. The instructor’s job is to remember that a big class is not just a sea of faces, but a group of individuals with different backgrounds, interests and enthusiasms.
- Christopher Friedrichs, History – Killam Teaching Award Winner
It is a real privilege to teach students – an opportunity to "turn them on" as opposed to doing the reverse. And the key to "turning them on?" I feel it has to do with believing in what you are selling. For if you don’t and would rather be elsewhere, students pick that up and you impact lessons. So, if there is one quote from me, it would be: It’s not hard to sell something (indeed someONE) you believe in.
- Dan Gardiner, Commerce – Killam Teaching Award Winner
Teaching students less can help them remember more.
- Lee Gass, Zoology – 3M and Killam Teaching Award Winner
Students seem to learn best when their curiosity is engaged and they can feel the link between the material and their own past, present or future lives. Given this, good teaching is about fostering curiosity. It is about finding, fueling, and firing up the links and creating experience within and between learners. Course content exists to be played with, tossed around until it becomes pertinent.
- Clarissa Green, Nursing – 3M Teaching Award Winner
I use a combination of information technology and interactive engagement methods in the class in order to encourage the students to take possession of the knowledge base in chemistry.
- Geoffrey Herring, Chemistry – Killam Teaching Award Winner
My philosophy with regard to education is that the teacher should facilitate the student in their search for knowledge (rather than deliver the knowledge per se). With this in mind I try to engage the students in an interactive discussion around the specific subject matter which they need to know.
- Niamh Kelly, Medicine – Killam Teaching Award Winner
Mathematics is too hard to learn in class. Good lectures provide the conceptual foundation and spark of interest that allow students to learn it on their own. Well-chosen homework is the key: challenging problems propel students beyond passive receptivity into aggressive inquiry.
- Philip Loewen, Mathematics – Killam Teaching Award Winner
We are all scientists. Good science education makes people aware that their subconscious process to decide if it’s safe to cross the street is really no different than, say, an astronomer’s conscious process to test the Big Bang Hypothesis. Observation, theory, prediction.
- Jaymie Matthews, Physics and Astronomy – Killam Teaching Award Winner
I believe teaching should promote the autonomy of students; elicit the preoccupations, passions, and lived experience students bring to the academy; and create a space for articulation and scholarly inquiry of these elements in their research and in their writing. My priority is creating a learning environment with structures that engage student participation and whereby their participation shapes the learning environment.
- Karen Meyer, Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction – Killam Teaching Award Winner
My basic teaching philosophy is to be enthusiastic about my subject, honest about potential confusions, and unambiguous in my explanations. I involve students in every lecture. I try to make students feel that the lecture could not take place without them. I de-emphasize memory work, and I stress the importance of integration of knowledge.
- Chris Orvig, Chemistry – Killam Teaching Award Winner
I believe that teaching is a creative art in which evidence-based knowledge is applied toward meeting the learning goals of learners. I believe that effective teaching is often the spark that ignites the imagination, possibility, and promise for learners, including the teacher.
- Barbara Paterson, Nursing – 3M and Killam Teaching Award Winner
Listen, respect, and respond to students’ points of view; be excited about mutual engagement in construction of knowledge; love learning and its complexity. Be curious about and committed to the possibilities inherent in the intersection of scholarship, mentorship, and pedagogy.
- Marion Porath, Educational and Counseling Psychology, and Special Education - Killam Teaching Award Winner
My philosophy of teaching is to provide an atmosphere of caring and respect for students in order to promote free-thinking and independent learning. My goal is to present topics with excitement and enthusiasm, drawing on both work and research experiences to make material relevant. Once students realize the value of their marketable skills it increases their desire to master those skills and concepts.
- Wayne Riggs, Pharmaceutical Sciences – Killam Teaching Award Winner
My aim in teaching is twofold: (a) to maximize my own enjoyment, and (b) they will tell their grandchildren about me.
- Chris Waltham, Physics and Astronomy – Killam Teaching Award Winner
If your students are highly intelligent, strongly motivated and well behaved, it matters little how you teach as they will thrive anyway. If they aren’t, your knowledge, preparation and skill as a teacher do matter.
- William Webber, Anatomy – Killam Teaching Award Winner