A passion for teaching

September 4, 2008

"Passionate and uncompromising dedication and commitment. Sparkling intelligence and enthusiasm. The greatest professor I ever had."

"He is the most passionate teacher I have ever had in my life. He flies around the room and makes every lecture enjoyable to attend."

Robert Citino, a military historian at Eastern Michigan University, attracted 26 pages of comments such as these to become RateMyProfessors' Number 1 Professor in the Nation last year.

The word "passion" features regularly in students' descriptions of their best teachers - both the passion tutors have for their subject and the passion they summon for sharing their learning with others.

It's a word that is often lost in the jungle of bureaucracy or the demands of the research assessment exercise. And in the midst of both, it can be all too easy to lose sight of the privilege and responsibility of transforming the lives of a generation of students.

With the advent of university tuition fees, the National Student Survey, websites such as RateMyProfessors and a growing focus on the student experience, being a good teacher is rightly being brought centre stage.

Here, Tom Palaima of the University of Texas at Austin opens our series with a cri de coeur about the importance of teaching. Although some details of his essay are specific to his location and situation, the story of the challenges in imparting knowledge to new generations is universal.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Boats docked in Port Hercule, Monaco

Richard Murphy praises a bold effort to halt tax-dodging by the 1 per cent

It’s a question with no easy answer, finds James Derounian

  • Man walking, University of Oxford campus, photo negative

Donald Brown shares the experiences that prompted him to talk about ‘institutional racism’ at Oxford

  • James Fryer illustration (19 November 2015)

With no time for proper peer review and with grade inflation inevitable, one academic felt compelled to resign

  • Egg timer and clock showing deadlines

Meghan Duffy thinks you can get on in academia without being chained to your desk