08 October 2014

Thoughts on teaching

I count myself lucky! In many ways, but especially teaching-wise. And that because of two things. First: I get to teach rather late in my career. I started my PhD in 2001; that's a heck of along time ago. I learned a lot along the way! My PhD dealt with Milankovitch-scale climate fluctuations and deglaciations, and long-distance climate connections. My first postdoc dealt with recent Arctic climate change, and took place at a Polar Institute which was teeming with glaciologists. Then I worked in sea level change for years. So now I know quite a lot, if I may be so arrogant! And I like history, so also history of science. And it's great to find out I have a solid framework of scientific knowledge, which easily accommodates new clumps of knowledge that can be slotted into place. And the whole structure often has something tangential to offer for every occasion. When I am making a powerpoint presentation on a topic I have myself not really been taught about, I sometimes think about how much harder that would have been many years ago. Today it goes so much faster, and with less frustration. And I think I stand there with a lot more confidence than I would have done back in the days! So I can imagine you learn hard and fast if you start lecturing a lot earlier, but I am glad I started late.

The second reason why I'm lucky is what I get to teach. I get to do the fun topics! Not statistics, not GIS, not modelling. No! I teach about ice, about climate records, about catastrophic climate change, about evolution. That sort of stuff! It's easy to be enthusiastic about it. And thus easy to make other people enthusiastic about it too! And it isn't without its issues; the lectures come by faster than I manage to prepare them, and there's always more work popping up. And I can't spend all my time on teaching; the research needs to be done too! But I think I already said it; by the time I'm done teaching I'll miss it. We'll see when I'll be doing it again!

B-15; the biggest iceberg ever recorded. It's about half the size of Wales. It is pictures like this with which I can festoon my lectures!

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