Inspirational Teaching

Below are some suggested concepts about inspirational teaching. We welcome you to express your own vision both within your syllabus and your teaching practice.

Getting Students Involved in a Serious Way

“It seems useful to recall that one ‘conducts’ a seminar. The analogy with a musical conductor is appropriate and instructive. The subject of the seminar (and the texts or problems being considered) forms a kind of score; the students will already have, with greater or lesser degrees of success, mastered the score before coming to class. The expectation is, in fact, that they will have prepared for class by reading the material, by thinking up something to say. The work of the conductor is to draw out this intellectual music, to arrange it, set the tempo of play. Imagine an orchestra, if you will, without a conductor. There would be no pace, no emphasis, no interpretation.” Jay Parini The Art of Teaching (2005)

Finding Purpose

“It may seem counterintuitive to assert that honors students have a unique need for a first-year seminar on finding academic purpose. We assume that our most academically successful students must know why they are striving so hard to achieve so much, but a decade and a half of teaching first-year students taught me otherwise. When polled on the first day of class on whether Bleicher 94 they have ever been asked why they are going to college, rarely do more than two respond positively, and they are almost always the first in their family to attend college. The vast majority have never questioned if or why they are college bound; it is simply an assumption transmitted by family, friends, and teachers.” Elizabeth Bleicher “Teaching Critical University Studies: A First-Year Seminar to Cultivate Intentional Learners” Honors in Practice 16 (2020)

Creating the Space for Failure

“Creating the space for failure is an essential component of my approach to honors education and what I believe to be the core of the honors course. In teaching more than a dozen honors freshman seminars, I have learned that our students have been trained to be risk-averse and GPA-minded, a reality heightened by the labels “high-achieving” or “honors.” Nationwide our students come to their first year from a variety of backgrounds, and this is especially true in Mississippi. Some leave private school education, where parents paid more per year in tuition than they will in university fees. Others come out of school environments where desks are broken, lunch periods are held in silence under teacher observation, and 1980s textbooks have to be shared between small groups.” Ashleen Williams “Intellectual Risk” Honors in Practice 16 (2020)

Engaging in Civil, Scholarly Exchange

“Let students launch discussion topics. Avoid directing conversation with an opening post or question. I prefer not to end discussions at a particular time or end of week. Keep dialogue open to encourage learning as a recursive and generative process.” John Zubizarreta “Using the Online Forum for Honors Learning” Honors in Practice 16 (2020) 7

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