Friday, February 13, 2015

The Professor as Comedian

The Chronicle of Higher Education
February 12th, 2015

"But, no jokes.”
Thus said my first, otherwise excellent, class performance-evaluation sheet. Just starting my undergraduate teaching career at twentysomething, I had been more concerned about the mastery of the subject (accounting), the fulfillment of class objectives, the clear delivery, the professional deportment. Check. Students’ opinions had been positive too: Their professor was “knowledgeable,” “helpful,” and “concerned with their learning.” Check. Overall remark from my elder colleague: “Very good class, but she did not tell any jokes.” No further feedback. No kidding.
Part of my teaching philosophy, crafted after the exceptional educators of my student years, was that a real academic subject carried its own magic and gravitas. Even accounting. Assets and liabilities, receivables and payables, income and expenses, were full of possibilities. The teleology of financial statements and the discernment of accrual accounting could not be underrated. The well-constructed blackboard worksheet and financial statement in those laborious pre-Peachtree and pre-PowerPoint days were things of beauty, of logic, of perseverance, of sheer will.

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