What’s The Best Lesson You Taught This Year?

It’s the end of the academic year, and over on Edutopia they’re asking, “What’s the best lesson you taught this year and what contributed to its success?

Great question!

This is a tough one to answer, because all my teaching has been new this year so I’ve been a little rabbits in the headlights. My close runner-up is going to be talking to 1st year Chemical Engineering undergrads about why risk management is actually really difficult to do in practice.  We spent about 20 minutes discussing what ‘medium’ might mean and that was very funny and the students played off one another brilliantly.  I like high energy undergrad classes!

But my highlight I think is going to be the ‘money day’ with a Masters group. In this module I look at sci/tech/eng through a variety of ‘lenses’….the money lens looks at macroeconomics, the public/private boundary and ideas of capital, risk and investment.

They had done readings and watched some multimedia, I had slides and calcs prepared for class. In the end we hardly used them. There were about 8 in the group from a whole variety of countries from Europe, South America and Africa – their expertise covers tax, engineering, systems, public health and urban planning.  As it happened we spontaneously talked about the 2007-8 financial crisis for an hour. We discussed different countries’ responses, thought about what drove these different responses and what role sci/tech/eng played in these responses.

It was great!  The students could contribute authoritatively, it allowed us to discuss the relationships between concepts and the comparative work proved to be a really vivid way of drawing out economic schools of thought, roles of corporations, regulatory responses, political narratives and cultural context. And of course they covered loads more ground than I would ever have been able to.

I wouldn’t have planned the activity this way because Id have considered it unwieldy and way beyond my subject expertise, but these masters students have significant work experience and are more than able to contribute at the level required for comparison. I just facilitated the discussion, introduced some structuring vocabulary along the way and learned alot myself!

So that’s me – what was your best lesson this year? ……