I’m sure we all remember the first day of school during our elementary days—maybe not in detail, but small parts. We’d play ice-breaker games in an attempt to make the entire class become friends with one another. We’d get our first assignment, which in elementary school was always an “all about me” poster, that took a total of 10 minutes to complete. One thing I remember distinctly is filling out those annoying questionnaires every year, the ones with questions like, “what do you look forward to this year?” and “how do you plan to do well this year?”. One question that I always took for granted then, but really value now, is the, “what characteristics do you think make a good teacher?” question.
My answer to that question was always something trivial, like “nice” or “patient”, but now I think I can finally answer that question correctly. After having the opportunity to meet many new professors in first year, I think the appropriate answer to that question would be “passionate”. Sure, being nice and patient are ideal qualities to have in a teacher or professor, but passion for what they’re teaching sets apart the great from the good. After all, as the old saying goes, “a good teacher knows the subject matter, while a great teacher is passionate about it”.
Professors who love what they’re teaching can make even the most boring topics interesting to students. This also works in the reverse way, however, where even the most interesting topics can come across as uninteresting if professors fail to teach their lessons with passion. Much of the university curriculum comes down to the lectures, and the way the professor delivers his or her material to their students can really make or break their course.
Probably the absolute worst prof that I’ve ever seen is this guy…
… And it’s obvious that his class is torture to his students, as indicated by their blank, bored faces as he goes on in his monotonous tone.
Conversely, one of the best professors that I’ve ever had was extremely outgoing during his lectures, always inviting lots of discussion, including real-world examples—really showing true passion for his subject. All of a sudden, I felt really passionate about a topic that I really had no interest in until this prof shared his passion with us.
As great as it is, true passion is unfortunately quite rare, especially in a society with individuals whose sole purpose of working is to gain money. So, the next time you’re fortunate enough to have a passionate prof, make sure you don’t take them for granted!