Teaching

I am not sure if I have mentioned here in my blog that I am going to be teaching at Berkeley in the Spring. I am very excited! The course I am teaching is an introductory reading and writing course where I choose all the readings myself. Though there is technically a professor in charge of the course, the two other times I have taught it, I have gotten basically no direction from said professor. I think the general idea is that teaching 18 year olds should be something we can handle with ease.

My department at Berkeley has a general policy to have all of its graduate students teach, both this introductory writing course and also a language course, and most of the time we are rather left to figure it out on our own. At the end of the semester, the students write evaluations of how we did as teachers, and those evaluations are kept in the front office for us to look through after grades are turned in. Excellence in teaching is absolutely a pillar of life at Berkeley; it is not one of those research only types of institutions, but rather a public institution that has to show the State of California that it is doing something good for its citizens. Teaching the best and brightest young people in California is part of that.

It is my understanding that the University of Iceland does not have their graduate students teach, nor I think do most English universities.

The Berkeley way is perhaps not better, but it does ensure that when we go to apply for university jobs, we at least have significant teaching experience under our belt. Not that I will be doing that any time soon; the other nice thing about teaching is of course that one does not have to pay tuition while one is teaching, and one even gets a bit of a salary.

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