Teaching has its ups and downs, like any other profession. It's a great feeling when a struggling student does well in class, and shows the excitement we try to teach regarding a theme or concept. It can be sad when course evaluations suggest that the class isn't "getting" what you had intended and we need to retool our approaches (leaving aside the less-mature commentary that happens from time to time). And, recent magazine articles to the contrary, most educators work quite hard to do the best job we can for our students (there was quite a bit of bemusement and a bit of sarcasm regarding the silly article in Forbes, such as here and here). Doing a good job for our students remains a moving target, even for the best of educators. We tell ourselves that that it matters, that it is worth it. And many of us---yours truly, for example---find it to be very much worth the time-equity investment.
But it is always good to read something inspirational about teaching, that presents new approaches, and perhaps more importantly, a new outlook.
A colleague of my wife's, Dr. Francis Su of Harvey Mudd College, was just presented the Haimo Teaching Award at the Joint Math Meetings of the Mathematics Association of America last week. It is a great honor to receive a Haimo Award (full disclosure: my wife won this award several years ago...and yes, I married up). Dr. Su's acceptance speech was remarkable. It deeply moved my wife, and she sent me a link to the speech. I could see what she meant!
Dr. Su posted the acceptance speech on Facebook, and I share it with you here:
Click here to read Dr. Su's wonderful acceptance speech.
Note: Apparently, Facebook took down Dr. Su's post as spam(!). No matter; Dr. Su kindly created a website with his talk for us all to appreciate. I changed the link above so that it will take you to his new website. Apologies for Facebook's, um, attention to spam.
If you are an educator, or a student, or interested in teaching or learning, please read this speech. It is on the subject of "grace" in teaching, learning, and growing.
Richly deserved applause to Dr. Su...and not simply for the prestigious Haimo Award. But for being willing to share his outlook and positivity with all of us.
His students must be very, very lucky!
Educators and students: consider the grace in your life. And increase it with others.