One of the ways in which we teach our students how to learn is by showing them how we learn. We model for them the attitudes and habits that we hope they will develop.
- We want our students to be curious. We take an interest in many subjects.
- We want our students to think independently and to test the claims that are put before them. We express skepticism.
- We want our students to work hard. We let them see how much time and effort we are investing in our courses.
In these and many other ways, we teach by example. Our students learn to learn by watching their teachers, who are more experienced students.
Could we commit ourselves to finding ways of making it easier and more attractive for members of the faculty to enroll in one another’s courses for a term or a part of a term?
The spouse of a colleague enrolled in a course that I taught in the autumn. Her presence in the classroom added much to my experience and to the experience of her classmates. The younger students recognized her discipline and the effectiveness of her approach. They clustered around her. Her sharper focus and greater assertiveness enabled her to ask the questions that helped me understand when I needed to adjust my pace, introduce a different example, or engage my students in a different way.
Work with our colleagues in the classroom will increase opportunities for sharing ideas about curricula and pedagogy. Some professors might initially feel some reluctance to let colleagues see their teaching or to expose their ignorance of a colleague’s subject when a guest in the colleague’s class. I think that we could find a way to reassure and encourage and help all see the benefits of open doors.