This is a contribution to the Fleming College Learning and Design Support Team‘s Open Faculty Patchbook, an open text for faculty getting a sense for practical pedagogy for their classrooms. Empathy has been front and center in my mind all year long, and adjusting to the intensity of the student contact in the move from the regional university back to the small college has made many of these thoughts more urgent.
One thing I realized in the process of making this move is that I had a philosophy of teaching that was just sitting there, relatively dormant. And I had a very intense teaching experience that had me fairly intensely studying how student learning works best – and that was at odds with some of the things in that philosophy document.
What I realized, about a third of the way through writing this, was that I was rewriting my philosophy of teaching.
So this is one of my more serious efforts. Acknowledgements at the end, but again, thanks to Terry Greene and the good people at Fleming for the opportunity to contribute.
Empathy and Science Pedagogy
By Chuck Pearson, Tusculum College, Tennessee
I honestly don’t remember the point in my teaching career when I realized how hard mathematics was for most of my students.
It’s not that I’ve ever been especially brilliant at mathematics. Sure, I can do a great deal of number crunching in my head without a second effort. But when the vector calculus or the differential equations got too sophisticated for my calculations in my own graduate research, I just looked for somebody else’s software or algorithm and twisted the mess out of it to make it do what I wanted it to do. I could handle the rudimentary stuff. I was horrible at setting up any integral but the simplest, for crying out loud. I knew the guys in my discipline who could handle the hard stuff and who were on another plane, and I wasn’t one of…
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