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The human side of teaching


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By Caitlyn Spencer

A new book from some Faculty of Arts members illustrates the importance of teaching.

“This is a faculty that values teaching,” says George Melnyk, associate professor in communication and culture. “A good teacher is a person who facilitates your growth as a human being. It’s not just about helping students get good grades. It’s about guiding students to an experience of university education as life-changing.”

Enter The Art of University Teaching, edited by Melnyk and professor emeritus Christine Mason Sutherland. More a collective memoir than an academic tome, the volume was born of informal weekly meetings held by Melnyk, Sutherland, and two other professors in the department, five years ago. The experience was a positive one, and it inspired Melnyk and Sutherland to collect essays from their fellow department members – faculty and student alike – on their own profound experiences of classroom life.

“Editing the book was a joy because in reading the articles, I got to know who my colleagues were,” Melnyk says. “You don’t find out who someone is simply from their academic research. It’s their approach to teaching that brings out their humanity.”

The book features essays by Communication and Culture luminaries such as Ron Glasberg, and a piece each from an undergraduate and graduate student. Collectively, decades of experience in and reflection on the interpersonal aspects of teaching are presented in a thought-provoking, often humorous tone.

The release of the book will be celebrated in SS 217 at 4 pm on Thursday, October 13. Many of the contributors will be present, and copies will be available for purchase. The Art of University Teaching can also be purchased at the U of C bookstore, or ordered online from Temeron Books.