Intro courses in Classics serve a number of different purposes:
- Anchor the major
- A sector requirement (for students who may never take another course like this)
- Place to train graduate students for their own teaching
Over the course has shifted his thinking about intro courses
- They do not need to be encyclopedic
- Instead use lectures to help students develop skills they need to think like someone in the discipline.
- Evaluations often reflect student disappointment with the lack of coverage but the process is more intellectually satisfying to teach.
- Intro courses reach students who have to take the course (for a variety of different reasons from other majors to med school) and those who are interested because they are majors.
- Create a course atmosphere that invites dialog and curiosity -- the attitude “we are learning together”
- Think about ways to get lessons to focus on cutting edge science or on the everyday
- Perform the way the discipline thinks about what we know “these are the answers we have now but we will have better ones eventually” -- do not pretend you know everything
- When students have to solve problems help them see why these problems matter
- Create a climate that is friendly to students. Talk to them when you walk into class (“how’s it going?” talk about stuff not related to class itself and learn names.)
- Have a lesson plan (so that you can help students see the structure of what you are doing) but make that plan flexible enough that you can follow student interests and curiosity.
- Talk with students about why you do what you do (that is how will the different parts of class help them learn and provide evidence for why you think that.)