The Alan J. Perlis SCS Student Teaching Award|
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3891
(412)268-8525 . (412)268-5576 (fax)
Reflections...William J. Lovas, 2010
A researcher in my field is fond of saying that the task of the academic is not to scale great intellectual mountains, but to flatten them. Nowhere is this motto so poignant as in the classroom, where many generations' worth of vast and sweeping ranges must be ironed out and made passable each and every semester. This flattening doesn't come easy, but in my opinion, it's one of the most rewarding and enjoyable endeavors an academic can engage in.
To me, teaching is less of a direct action than a state of mind – I don't think of myself as just dispensing material, but rather creating the right conditions for learning to occur. Even the best of students can't learn without caring, so a teacher's primary responsibility is to create an atmosphere of excitement and an air of possibility, giving students a reason to crave understanding. It is a happy accident that I am rather easily excitable myself, so creating that atmosphere comes naturally to me: I've always loved learning new things, and I can't help wanting to share the experience with others.
I've been extremely fortunate to have the chance to TA a course so close to my interests, and with a group of students so eager and dedicated. They really made the experience fun for me, and I'm happy to have returned the favor!
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