When I was doing my undergrad studies, I (as a social coordinator at my college) invited a new assistant professor (AS) to give us a little about his life as a new professor. One of the lessons I never forget is he said the first day I taught at the college and was walking out of the class and another “full” professor (x) met me by a chance and asked me a question: “what would you do if a student asked a question and you do not know the answer?”. Professor AS said simply I’d say I don’t know! professor X was shocked and went crazy, asking him to not do that as it would affect him negatively! professor X thinks a professor should not show the inability to answer any questions and always should make himself as “a man knows everything in the planet”. Professor AS’s approach is to mislead his students when they ask questions he doesn’t know! YES that what he does, unfortunately!
The good part of the story is that professor AS didn’t take X’s advice and instead he approached his way by saying “I don’t know the answer and I promise you I’ll look for it and bring the answer with my next class”. Two years later, professor AS said I’ve learned a LOT from my students. They keep me everytime thinking and looking at things differently! although I’m teaching a basic and “non-interesting” course, I get challenged by my students and never stop learning.
This story raised a big concern for me since I was an undergrad student (10 years ago). I asked myself: how many times professor X has refused a chance of teaching himself and benefit from his students? How many times professor X misled his students and block their creativity? On the other side, how many times professor AS has learned and improved himself? how many times his students get motivated and encouraged in the class? how much interest the professor is giving every class?
Takeaway message: whatever you teach and regarding how basic/boring the course is, there is a great chance you learn every class!