Experiencing Teaching: A Panel Discussion with Irene Bloemraad, Tom Gold and Sandra Smith, University of California, Berkeley

Monday, October 7, 2013 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall


Irene Bloemraad, Tom Gold and Sandra Smith, University of California, Berkeley.

Although teaching is a major part of our lives in the university, as a community we all too rarely discuss our experiences of teaching publicly.  It’s a private zone. We all have our idiosyncratic ways of teaching but we have a great deal to learn from one another and from students – “the educators, too, have to be educated.” When it comes to getting jobs or promotions teaching is often given but minor recognition. Yet it offers immediate rewards and, for many, gives meaning to our academic lives. This is the first of a series of panels in which Berkeley sociologists – not just regular faculty but visiting faculty and graduate students – will talk about their experiences as teachers, the low points and the high points, the agony and the ecstasy. The point of these conversations is not to present a theory or model of pedagogy but to talk about the concrete challenges and real dilemmas in negotiating, for example, huge undergraduate classes or handling tension-filled graduate seminars. The era of MOOCs demands that we collectively discuss the meaning of teaching in the public university, how we ourselves want to teach rather than how others want to define it for us. In recent times Berkeley sociology has become a center for outstanding and dedicated teachers, and these discussions are designed to critically build upon that. In this first panel three experienced teachers, all Berkeley sociology faculty – Irene Bloemraad, Tom Gold and Sandra Smith – will reflect on their undergraduate teaching.