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Teaching Excellence Center

Circle Summaries September 2000

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Monday 2:00 Session (no summary)


Tuesday 3:00 Session

Last time, we discussed the question, "What is The University?" We agreed that it's more than a location, including a general quest for knowledge and insight into our universe. Even as a location, however, The University isnot merely a building or collection of buildings. Rather, The University is a collection and, more importantly, collaboration of people, physical resources, and intellectual force designed to explore the universe and (hopefully) benefit society. One inquiry that flowed from our discussion was how internet education affects The University. Specifically, is the internet's effect on The University expansive or isolationist? Perhaps a little of both? The inquiry about The University remains unanswered, as do all questions about the universe, I suppose.

We also discussed the question "What is Quality?" Like Pirsig suggested in his book "Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", maybe quality isn't something that can be pigeonholed or nailed down. We agreed that "quality teaching," for example, is one of those things that "you know it when you see it." For example, we've all had those days when nothing works in class and you just can't quite figure out why the students all are staring blankly at you and obviously not catching all your brilliant words of wisdom. You can only wonder, "Where did my message go?" On the other hand, we've also each had those stellar days when everything clicks and you wonder whether the students suddenly became much brighter or whether you hit the magic chord that makes your message sound like the music of angels to our dear students. And you can only say, "Wow!" As with our discussion about The University, our inquiry remains open.

Next time, we will focus on why we are doing what we are doing. What brought us to teaching? What is joyous, or what is painful, about teaching? Do the reasons for our choice to teach affect The University and, if so, how? How is quality teaching related to WHY we do what we do?


Thursday 1:30 Session

In the Sept meeting of the Templeman teaching circle, members got acquainted and shared needs and ideas for the format during the coming semester. This is a diverse group regarding discipline, gender, and ethnicity. This is viewed as a true asset as we will bring diverse ideas. The discussion focused on the possibilities available regarding format and content. Ideas generated included book/journal article reviews, speakers, training through the faculty development center, etc. Reviewing summaries from previous circles it was decided that this circle will be flexible to accommodate individual and group needs. A topic will be selected each month for discussion at the next meeting. The topic for October is "Student Accountablity."

Friday 12:00 Session (no summary)


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