The practice of education has probably the biggest impact on our society, starting from the scale of an individual to shaping the future of life on earth. Before taking this course of contemporary pedagogy, my perception of education like many others was very much limited to the idea of exchange of knowledge between the educator and the student. My thoughts on being a good teacher would revolve around only how to become a more efficient facilitator of the technical knowledge. There are numerous other facets, like taking into consideration inclusion, diversity, ethical issues, the human factors that would extend a teacher-student relationship beyond the classroom, that makes the process of education complete.
Every year my PhD advisor creates an yearly family newsletter sharing the events of his family with all his students. I find this really sweet, it lets me know that my advisor is not just a great scientist, he is a great father and husband who loves to spend time with his family! And this knowledge affects the dynamics of my interaction with him, allowing it to be more informal and personal. For the class that I am a TA for, the professor asks the students to write something good or positive about their exam on the top of their test paper. Among the wide variety of things they write, one of the students addressed the professor as “the fantastical Mr. S”! This caught my attention and immediately made me happy and made the tedious task of grading much enjoyable. There are innumerable ways to connect to our students, and making such human connections goes a long way in making a classroom a better place not just for learning the subject, but to be a more respecting, thoughtful, appreciating and tolerant person.
Just like every research topic needs a good motivation, learning a subject becomes way more interesting once we know why we are learning it and how it affects the world we live in. It is imperative for students to be aware of the ethical issues, the environmental impacts, the interdisciplinary crossroads that surrounds a topic for them to have a complete expertise on the subject. My biggest takeaway from this course was that it forced me to think about teaching as a much more comprehensive practice of sharing not only knowledge, but also emotions.