Location, location, location

If I had to give advice to a new university teacher, I would say, when you teach a new course, borrow or steal someone else’s that has been working and follow the recipe, slavishly.

I made this mistake myself.

Being new, I thought I had a new perspective that a previous teacher had missed.

Little did I know.

Courses are an ecology of teacher, material, and students.

It is no easier to get the ecology right than to get the biology right in keeping fish, so that the fish stay alive and swimming. That bowl of two fish that a friend gave your kid looks easy to keep, but as anyone knows who has conducted a fishy funeral, it ain’t so.

Ditto courses.

If they work, follow the recipe. Don’t make up your own until your bread rises, your pastry is flaky, your fish stay afloat, or whatever metaphor you wish.

A funny [strange] analogy is in church teaching.

I had a course that had transformed me.

I made up a version that I could use with a casual group of adult learners in my office on Sunday mornings, one hour.

No body cared.

Then, discouraged, I did nothing for three years with the material.

The opportunity arose to host the course in someone’s home, with a group that opted in deliberately, with no time restriction but an expectation for a couple of hours.

They and I loved it.

Go figure.

Context matters. The context of the material matters. They call it “environment” in the literature. It must matter. It did in this case.

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