Relax, there will be no whips or leather belts in this post. However, this will be a post meant to whip myself and other future educators into shape!
I first thought of this title when considering ‘connecting the dots’ with respect to the problem based learning assignment and teaching ethics to engineers, in that often times, there is no clear cut answer as to what is wrong or right.
Then I started to think about institutions of learning, how there are liberal arts vs. technical colleges, both stand-alone and encapsulated within larger Universities, all with their own cultures and histories molded by the times.
Then I began thinking about how there are different teaching philosophies and techniques as well as different disciplines, individual students, varying lesson plans, geographic differences, and educators whose personalities are different. No technique is ‘correct’ for all cases or people.
Finally, I realized that in order to bring all of the lessons of this semester together under one unifying theme, the title of this blog was surprisingly appropriate. It isn’t black or white. It requires thought and when Seth Godin says he has 5 keys to reforming educational systems, then lists 5 keys, and then goes one to say he has 5 more, then wraps up with 2 more ‘myths’ for a grand total of 12, it goes to show you there many ways that the way we teach can be reformed to fit the students of today.
The main lessons that I’ve learned this semester that will be implemented immediately in my classrooms are:
- Incorporating technology in the classroom: as part of lesson delivery, assignments and feedback from student blogs, uploaded assignments, websites, and portfolios can be used to both deliver content and to get feedback on how much understanding the students get
- Syllabus : The importance of it as not just a mechanical document for how the class is run but more of a personality of the course and by extension of the professor
- Teaching Philosophy: the importance of revisiting this
- Engineering Ethics: Incorporating engineering ethics as a continued formal discussion as opposed to intermittent informal discussions
- Flipped classrooms: Having the students teach me what they know and what they have learned as a form of evaluation