... and back to Teaching

October 2, 2012

I haven’t lectured in any meaningful sense for quite a while; in fact the last time I taught was the 2010/2011 academic year when I was lecturing half of a first year maths module. Since then there have been other things occupying my time, (namely the battle of the thesis) but that’s almost over now, so my attention once again turns to getting some more teaching under my belt.

You get the feeling with some academics that teaching is seen as an annoyance - something that has to be done as part of the job but that is at best a distraction. I hate this attitude - if you can't do something with passion then I feel you shouldn't be doing it. Teaching is an opportunity to get people interested in things, to engage with them and make them think. Some people may argue that it's just not possible to be passionate or engaging with their subject, but I would say that if that's not possible, why are they teaching it?

I actively enjoy teaching, especially so when it’s on a topic I have a particular interest in. Recently Stu was good enough to ask me to give a guest lecture on Django in his first year Python module, and it was very enjoyable. I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to do something similar for Omer’s masters module this year, talking about Foursquare and its API initially, and then also presenting some things on Django a couple of weeks later. These are nice opportunities and allow me to talk at a semi-interested audience about topics that I like, which is always fun. Along with the guest lectures I’ve got planned, I’m also teaching LaTex to postgrad students from across the university as part of the University Graduate College, which will be a nice experience to teach a ‘programming language’ like topic to a bunch of people who probably aren’t computer scientists.

At the moment I’m also involved in scoping out some possible new modules for some courses that may (hopefully) happen here in the next year or so. This is the first time I’ve been able to look at a topic for a module and actually plan in detail what I think is important to teach, or what I would like to teach in such a module. It’s far more involved than I’ve been before, previously all the content and syllabus has been decided beforehand and I’ve had little scope to make many changes, so this is a novel experience. It requires a lot of thought to make sure that everything being planned is relevant, up to date, necessary and interesting.  Hopefully, I’m succeeding.

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