Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rate me, Love me

Shocking that it's been a month-and-a-half since my last post. I write every day, believe me, just not here. I am writing for LifeSite, as you know, and for the Catholic Review of Books, as you know, but also for an other project - I don't think I'm 'allowed' to talk about it right now - not to mention writing on some of my 'other stuff' - for publication as books and as articles.

I suppose I could offer a word/day estimate. Something like 2000 comes to mind. That's 8-pages, according to my standard calculation. That's every day, my friends, every day. I would say that I am as prolific as Great Augustine, but my stuff is dung compared to his. But it is one of the elements that keeps me sane - along with reading, adoration and weightlifting.

I spent some time today on a site I don't believe I have ever visited before: Rate my Professor. It's not exactly what you would call of scientific usefulness, but, like the evaluations students do in class, is worth something. A lot of truth can be drawn from it, if you know how to look.

As I still desire to teach again in the university setting, I pay attention to how to become a good teacher. I listen to what people have said about me and about others and carefully consider everything. But, of course, student evaluations can be given too much weight. I feel they were at OLSWA. When you teach a contentious subject like theology - where everyone is an expert, or at least has a strong opinion - you are, I would say, living in a minefield, unless, that is, you never challenge your students intellectually, but just confirm them in their childhood faith 24/7. This is not whether your course is hard or not. This is whether you say, "Hey, guess what, you have a naive view of the Bible. Have you thought about what these critics have said about it? Do you realize that the Church doesn't teach what you think it does?"

Anyway, I digress too much. Still healing here, my friends. lol.

Here's some interesting facts I got from the site. Out of 5, here are these well-known people's overall scores:

Peter Kreeft 3.6
Scott Hahn 3.2

Those are not stellar. My favourite professor ever, was my Medieval History prof from Dalhousie:

Cynthia Neville 4.5

Another of my favourite profs, also from Dalhousie, was my Greek teacher:

Leona MacLeod 4.1

The Dalhousie average is 3.6.

I think, all the time I spent looking up various profs I know, what I learned was that two essential aspects of a good teacher are: clarity about your intentions for the course, and interesting, intelligible lectures. These are good things and no one can dispute this. Most of the rest is subjective. It definitely helps if you are good looking, not intimidating either in fact or per accidens. Other things: you are considered approachable. Lots of feedback for students on their tests and papers - all them want to get better marks, after all. But of course, as you see more and more contradictory evidence - i.e., a teacher is arrogant at the same time as being humble, funny and approachable - THERE IS NO WAY TO PLEASE EVERYBODY.

It makes a big difference whether you are teaching intro courses or upper level ones. A different set of rules apply in each case.

Anyway, in sum, students are the best and worst part of teaching.


  1. he wasn't listed there that I could see.

    the more I think about it, though he was an excellent prof, you loved him because he was handsome ;-)