September 15th, 2009

Sharing Knowledge


Have you considered submitting a program proposal for the 2010 Teaching Professor Conference? You should and you’ll find all the information you need to do so at The deadline for program proposals is October 31, 2009.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (and I so appreciate those of you who are), you know that I seldom use this space to promote Teaching Professor activities or resources. The reason for doing so now is really an issue larger than our conference and interest in having you share your wisdom there. It’s about valuing what we’ve learned as teachers and recognizing the need to share our knowledge with others.

I caught just a bit of a TV program my hubby was watching about how a group of Native Americans in Alaska who were spending time in the wildnerness so that some of the old skills and ways could be shared with the younger generation. When asked why they still wanted to share skills not as needed in modern society as in the past, one of the elders said simply, “It’s about who we are. Our identity grows out of what we know and can do.”

I think college teachers also have a legacy. Some of the ways we teach are not as relevant and useful today as they once were, but they have defined us and are at the core of how we relate to our content and the students we teach. Classrooms are places that define us; for most of us they have been places of great learning. We have learned more about the content we teach. We have learned how to explain it, how to use our passion to motivate others, how to phrase questions and what answers lead to the next question; and we have learned how to discover if a student understands. Each of these larger learnings has infinite numbers of individual variations, which is why there is so much we can learn from and with each other.

As we’ve seen every year at the Teaching Professor Conference the collective sharing of knowledge, experiences, insights, and wisdom helps others learn. It also causes celebration as we revisit what we do and why we do it and discover yet again that the work we do has meaning and purpose. We would love to learn from you at the conference, but beyond our call for conference programs is a larger call for you to value what teaching has taught you and to share your wisdom with other teachers who have much to learn from you. You can share your wisdom at our conference (or another one), in an article, on the Web, in an email, or in conversation with a colleague.