Thursday, February 18, 2016

Inside the Teaching Professor - Teaching Beyond the Discipline

Recently while driving around town I heard on the radio an interview with the classicist Mary Beard. In the interview she talked about her now 10-year-old blog, A Don’s Life. It sounded interesting, so I checked it out. 

Turns out that Beard writes on all kinds of subjects in A Don’s Life, not only or even primarily on ancient Western topics. She tackles the Cecil Rhodes controversy at Oxford, for instance, how we handle disagreement today, her vacation to Iceland, and more, ten years more. Some of it I liked!

The more I browsed, the more it came home to me how important it is that academics remain interested in the world beyond our limited disciplines. It may even be that our intellectual peregrinations are crucial to our continued disciplinary relevance. 

This is part of Pamela Reese’s underlying point in “The Classic Movies Come to Class” in the January edition of The Teaching Professor. Reese wants all of us, in every discipline, to work ‘classic’ movies into our curriculum. By experiencing such films, according to Reese, students “can have thrilling revelations that bridge directly to what they are studying.” By a slight change of focus and medium, the desired learning objective can be attained. Reese provides a nice list of films to consider, too! 

By reminding us that our disciplines exist in broader contexts and relations, Beard and Reese encourage us to bring all of our intellectual interests and creativity to bear on our teaching.

The Teaching Professor includes summarized articles from various educational publications, as well as original articles from university and college instructors. If you are interested in viewing articles in this and/or other publications, contact Tim Deines at or stop by the CTE, TLC 324.