We are pleased to announce that two of our graduate students have recently won the Graduate Students’ Teaching Award. Eri Sasaki is receiving the award for the second time. Congratulations!!
Since Takashi is a first-time winner, we also took the opportunity to find out what makes him such an effective teacher.
1. What inspires you to teach?
When I think about the inspiring classes I had in the past, they were always the classes where teachers or professors introduced me to the passionate lives of psychologists or philosophers (e.g., Emerson, Maslow, Nietzsche, Husserl). I learned from those classes that we don’t study just for the sake of conforming to the society. But we actually learn so that we can courageously question the unexamined presuppositions of established norms or theories. So I deliver the knowledge to students not just to help them get good grades on the final exam but to encourage them to use those knowledge so that they may make choices one day to search and fight against the dogmatic/unquestioned norms out in the world. This belief is what inspires me to teach.
2. What are some of the major challenges you face as a teacher?
The major challenge in teaching is definitely the preparation since I have to exhaust all the possible questions that could come up during the tutorial. It’s the most time consuming part of the teaching and we TAs still have to reserve time for our own research. When the preparation is well done, then the teaching flows. Another challenge is the balance between delivery of the course material and occasional sharing of personal experiences. Through my experience of teaching, I came to learn that students really value the latter so I try not to forget including this element in the tutorial.
3. Why do you think you are an effective teacher?
This question makes me feel very shy to answer. But if I were to state some distinguishable trait of mine compared to other tutors in NUS, it would be that I used to be a complete drop out in the school. So I truly know how it is like to feel lost during the lectures or tutorials. Therefore, I triple check that all the students are on the same page before I proceed. Students who are very quick to absorb the materials dislike my slow pace but fortunately, most students seem to like it.