CIPs Teaching Tips – Fall 2012 #6 “Don’t be an inadvertent ass”

What’s the first thing you think of when you think of someone acting like an ass? Perhaps stubbornly insisting that they and only they (and perhaps a small group of elite others) have the answers about a particular something, if not everything. Annoying? Of course it is. Pompously braying about how much you know or how little your students know would earn any teacher donkey ears. Fortunately very few academics (at least around here) are guilty of such overt “asinine” behaviors.

But what message are you sending to your students about what it means to be smart, to be educated? Are you inviting them to learn while encouraging them to push and challenge themselves? Are you guiding them to understand the power of new knowledge and integrative thinking? Are you passionately displaying your own love of learning and intellectual curiosity? Are you portraying mistakes as part of the learning process? Are you encouraging and designing iteration and improvement into their learning so they learn to assess, reject, refine and perfect?

It’s a good point in the semester for checking your outgoing messages, especially your inadvertent ones. Make sure you are modeling what you want your students to learn. If we want them to be curious lifelong learners who strive for excellence in an ethical manner, we better choose actions and create a classroom tone that reflect this.

Here’s a good article about plagiarism that demonstrates modeling what we want to teach. (Thanks to Ellen Zeman for the discovery.)

Remember, we’re helping to create tomorrow’s adults. Scary but true.


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