Q1. What do you like about teaching at UTSC?
The Scarborough campus is unique in many ways - whether in terms of scale, academic programs, course offerings, or the diversity of the student population - all of which contribute to making it an extremely distinctive and interesting place to teach. One of the great pleasures of teaching in the VPA Arts Management Program is the high quality of the students - they're bright, enthusiastic, and highly motivated. It makes teaching at UTSC an enormously satisfying and rewarding experience.
Q2. Who or what inspires your teaching (past/present/future)?
That's an easy one: the students. Watching individual students grow intellectually as they progress through the Program is a truly inspirational experience. But I've also had the benefit of many excellent teachers and mentors over the years. When I was a graduate student at Carleton, observing the boundless enthusiasm and dedication that Ken Hatt and Alan Gillmor brought to teaching undergraduate courses in Sociology and Music was a terrific source of inspiration to me, and convinced me that I'd chosen the right profession. I've also been grateful for the tireless mentoring and support that I've received from several very special individuals, including John Shepherd, Paul Attallah, and Richard Leppert.
Q3. What is your favorite teaching tip?
I'm not sure that I'm really a 'teaching tip' kind of guy. Most teaching is about hard work, careful preparation, and your own enthusiasm for the material - if all of those are in place then you have a good course on your hands.
Q4. What is your philosophy towards teaching?
One of the fundamental aims of my teaching is to foster in students the critical thinking skills that are among the most essential of analytical tools - not only in the university, but also in everyday life. In my classroom, I encourage an atmosphere in which all perspectives, all theories, all opinions are matters of debate, not dogma. Everyone in my classroom - myself included - has to be prepared to justify their position, and to argue their case in a manner which is coherent, disciplined, and respectful.
Q5. When you design a course/teach a class, what are the main goals you have for your students?
My courses are designed to be informative, challenging, and thought-provoking. There are few 'right answers' in the arts and humanities, and for many students the invitation to think in a truly critical fashion is one of the most challenging tasks to have confronted them. Initially, some find the challenge invigorating and exciting; others find it disheartening and confusing. I encourage all students to express their own views and their own ideas, whether confidently or hesitantly, and to participate in open discussion. One of the most satisfying aspects of my teaching has been to observe the manner in which students of all abilities and personalities rise to this challenge, even after initial reluctance and reticence.
Q6. What do you take away from the students you teach?
No matter how often you teach a particular course, or how well you know the readings, it's always fascinating to observe the way that students can bring fresh perspectives and insights to the course material. It keeps things interesting, and it keeps me on my toes!