Teaching What You Don’t Know


October 30, 2012

In the introduction to [Therese Huston’s Teaching What You Don’t Know], which was just released in paperback, Huston points out that graduate students and new faculty members traditionally expect to be able to teach courses in their areas of expertise. That seems like a benign enough assumption. However, she writes, “college and university faculty members often find themselves having to teach what they don’t know. They have to get up in front of their classes and explain something that they learned just last week, or two days ago, or, in the worst-case scenario, that same morning over a very hurried breakfast.” I can confirm that easily enough from my own dozen years of teaching at a liberal-arts college. Although my background is in 20th-century British literature, I regularly have to dip back into the 19th century for my survey course on British literature. With almost no formal training in rhetoric, I count “Argument and Persuasion” among my standard course offerings. Every member of my department could make similar claims. Read the whole article on The Chronicle of Higher Education.  photo by Brian Taylor

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