Paul's BU Teaching Page

The mindset I bring to teaching is driven by my personal experiences of how students best learn, which is through them being put in a position where they can take charge of the learning process, stay engaged, stay curious and to see how what they are learning connects (in a direct way) to their everyday lives. Further, if the connection is not immediately obvious, then I see it as my role as a teacher to help keep alive for students the big picture, that it eventually will connect, and show them how. I don't shy away from admitting to students, "Yes, I get it... what we are doing right now isn't all that exciting if you look at it as an individual problem, but here is where we can go with this if you stick it out...", and I try to point to examples that connect to their intended career paths.

My approach is also to convince students that the laws and equations they are learning are derived from interesting physical realities of nature. I try to do that by moving back and forth between the abstract and the real.

The "fun" part of science is that discoveries are constantly being made and is driven by creativity and curiousity. For introductory science courses this poses a challenge because students are learning fundamentals that were, in many cases, discovered long ago. I try to be very aware of this and it's always my hope that every student can always answer the question "Why do we care about this?" Often, that it's "interesting" is enough. I try to convince students that it's a lost opportunity to learn physics to do well on an exam. Instead, it's an opportunity to learn about how our world works and to learn problem solving skills that can be applied elsewhere.

I try to help students become more comfortable with the fact that what they are learning is often non-intuitive. And also what they are learning is new to many, so it's like learning a language for the first time. Yet this language is connected to nature that we all live in. We just don't tend to think about it all the time, and moreover we are biased by natural preconceptions about how nature works, that may indeed be entirely incorrect.

Through a supportive and caring community, one where we all help one another, can all feel free to ask any question at any time, students can not only learn the content well, but it can make for a more enriching experience.

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