Wednesday’s Harvard Gazette features a psychologist, Steven Pinker. In the interview, he responded to the question of what makes a great teacher, he said:
Foremost is passion for the subject matter. .. Also important is an ability to overcome professional narcissism, namely a focus on the methods, buzzwords, and cliques of your academic specialty, rather than a focus on the subject matter, the actual content. I don’t think of what I’m teaching my students as “psychology.” I think of it as teaching them “how the mind works.” They’re not the same thing. Psychology is an academic guild, and I could certainly spend a lot of time talking about schools of psychology, the history of psychology, methods in psychology, theories in psychology, and so on. But that would be about my clique, how my buddies and I spend our days, how I earn my paycheck, what peer group I want to impress. What students are interested in is not an academic field but a set of phenomena in the world — in this case the workings of the human mind. Sometimes academics seem not to appreciate the difference.
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