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The interesting stuff >> About teaching on Renaissance intellectual history >> "old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching"
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Message started by hck on 14.01.2008 at 11:53:25

Title: "old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching"
Post by hck on 14.01.2008 at 11:53:25

Fretful Porpentine (blog: Quills) in the entry "all Shakespeare, all the time" (http://fporpentine.blogspot.com/2008/01/all-shakespeare-all-time.html) has several (IMO) nice musings (although that entry is somewhat about Shakespeare, and as you know I try to keep my posting about Shakespeare and things related to Shakespeare here to an to a minimum): i.a.:


Quote:
All I knew was that this was the first time that anybody had suggested to me that maybe Shakespeare didn't believe in the Divine Right of Kings or the Great Chain of Being, and it was liberating.

I'd certainly agree that a good class is one at the end of which all of the participants know less than they did before. And I'm happy if this is considered as "liberating" (and I certainly intend it to be "liberating") though sometimes I have the impression that most often it is perceived just as "shocking".

And (next quote):

Quote:
I tend to think of it as the old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching, where you can wander in five minutes late, looking as if you had suddenly taken it into your head to teach a class that day, ramble a bit about current events or the books you bought over the weekend, and have it suddenly build to a complex and provocative point. It takes a certain classroom persona, and more importantly, scattered thoughts that are actually interesting; it doesn't always work, even for the old white guys with beards, but I loved it when my undergrad profs could pull it off.

Although my beard is greying: I'd still not try to open a class like this: for several reasons:
  • I doubt that anybody would get any relevant information from  it - besides the one that probably I didn't prepare well enough for that class.
  • I rarely buy books over the weekend.
  • Students might be tempted to try to imitate that style for their own presentations/papers (some of them sometimes seem to be inclined to that style anyway), and fail, and blame their failure on my having given an inefficient example.
  • I don't feel like a guru. And hopefully I'll never feel like a guru.
  • If that sort of teaching is well done: it seems to emanate wisdom. But wisdom IMO can't be taught (nor learned); IMO it can only be acquired; and in the best of cases we can teach how to acquire it. I strive to teach methods and some (more or less random) bits of content, which might (hopefully) lead to some knowledge and paideia (in Aristotle's sense).
  • When confronted myself with the "old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching" (yes, a long long time ago I was a student too) most of the time I first had the impression to have understood something deep and important. When then asking myself what exactly I had understood: I found out that I didn't know, that I did not understand what I had understood: I was not able to make those deep and important bits of wisdom operative. And I'm conceited enough to doubt that this was entirely my fault.


Title: Re: "old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching"
Post by hck on 17.01.2008 at 14:42:12

Cf. etiam FP's 2007-09-25 posting at http://fporpentine.blogspot.com/2007/09/end-of-honeymoon.html:

Quote:
And I had Introduction to Shakespeare, which was really Introduction to Shakespeare and Assorted Other Stuff, including anecdotes about the Soviet news service, a look at the Victorian-era illustrated Shakespeare the professor had picked up over the weekend (and musings about how the female characters were depicted, and which ones weren't depicted at all, and why), and reminiscences about the freshman humanities program at the professor's alma mater, thirty years ago and more. It was, in short, an introduction to the kind of connections that thinking people make, and I believe everyone should have a class like that in their first semester of college.


And her comments on comments on the "all Shakespeare, all the time"-piece mentioned above.

Title: Re: "old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching"
Post by hck on 19.05.2008 at 12:18:46

This is not focussed on renaissance intellectual history, and it's not about styles/types of teaching, but about types of academic teachers, and it's in German, but nevertheless it might be considered to be "on topic" for this thread: Mathias Irle & Christoph Koch: Dozenten-Typologie :  So tickt der neue Prof! (http://www.spiegel.de/unispiegel/wunderbar/0,1518,547446,00.html).

Title: Re: "old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching"
Post by hck on 26.06.2008 at 18:26:24

Tomorrow (2008-06-27) I'll have a session on "styles of teaching" (or, perhaps more accurate, because that's with quite some probability what a good part of the time will be dedicated to: on/about "paradigmatic cases of impressive teaching (good, bad, ambivalent, neutral)") in my Organon course (http://www.phil-hum-ren.uni-muenchen.de/LV/LV2008s.htm#LV234).

In case that there should be any worthwhile results and I have time to do so: I'll give a short report about it here.

Title: Re: "old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching"
Post by hck on 27.06.2008 at 12:20:13


hck wrote:
Tomorrow (2008-06-27) I'll have a session on "styles of teaching" (or, perhaps more accurate, because that's with quite some probability what a good part of the time will be dedicated to: on/about "paradigmatic cases of impressive teaching (good, bad, ambivalent, neutral)") in my Organon course (http://www.phil-hum-ren.uni-muenchen.de/LV/LV2008s.htm#LV234).

In case that there should be any worthwhile results and I have time to do so: I'll give a short report about it here.


Few results of potentially general interest.
  • The organisation of exams is perceived as part of the style of teaching of the person in charge of organising the exams.
  • The degree of homogenity/heterogenity of styles of teachings seems at least partially to differ from subject to subject (this was i.a. about predetermination of the content of and methodology used in courses).
  • The question whether, and when, and to which degree the size of a class affects the style of teaching used might merit further investigation.
  • Some types of teachers/styles of teaching seem to become rare or even extinct:
    • The-lover-of-research-and-open-hater-of-teaching
    • The master/guru/pythagorean teacher
    • The platonist teacher

  • Extremes seem to be rarer now than they were when I did study. Or there have been changes in perception. Or both.
  • Perceptions and definitions of of "fairness"/"justice" can differ considerably between the teacher and the taught, and such differences of definition and perception are perceived as part of the teacher's style of teaching.


Title: Re: "old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching"
Post by hck on 09.07.2008 at 09:10:23

See now also Fretful Porpentine's 2007-07-08 posting@Quills Lecture Guilt (http://fporpentine.blogspot.com/2008/07/lecture-guilt.html) and the commentaries to that posting.

Title: Re: "old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching"
Post by hck on 25.07.2008 at 08:24:53

Talking at conferences sometimes is and sometimes isn't part of academic teaching. As it sometimes is, and as  it's not the least about early modern/renaissance studies scholars: People interested in this thread here might perhaps want to have a look at Flavia's 2008-07-12 "Ferule & Fescue" posting Please don't make me hate you (http://feruleandfescue.blogspot.com/2008/07/please-dont-make-me-hate-you.html) and the comments on that posting.
There is also a small meta-discussion of this at Theoria magiae non est magia mere theoretica (http://a-waffling.livejournal.com/): Ferule & Fescue goes HP (http://a-waffling.livejournal.com/58096.html).

Title: Re: "old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching"
Post by hck on 29.07.2008 at 08:54:44

At http://fporpentine.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-love-beowulf-movie.html there is something about Fretful Porpentine's ways of teaching.
I guess I lack the patience to emulate her.

Title: Re: "old-white-guy-with-a-beard style of teaching"
Post by hck on 04.08.2008 at 14:36:14

At http://jetzt.sueddeutsche.de/texte/anzeigen/442250 there is lars-weisbrod's Wie die Universität mich enttäuscht hat. Zum Beispiel Professor Hochmuth (i.a. about a teacher who might very well belong to the guru category, and about a student's interaction with him); it's not renaissance centred, but at least it's about a philosopher.

Quote:
Man müsse sich eben entscheiden, sagte Professor Hochmuth einmal, ob man Wissenschaft betreiben wolle oder Märchen erzählen.


Up to now the comments are far less sceptical than I'd have expected them to be.

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