מתוך פילוסופית ההוראה של פרופ"מ ברקוביץ
Philosophy is a big word, but here is what I do.
Passion and enthusiasm – many aspects come together to create effective teaching, but if I had to rand them, passion and excitement would be first on my list. In my experience, once students are excited about a topic, their capacity and willingness to work hard and process complex ideas increases dramatically. Fortunately this is also one of the easiest aspects to implement. Enthusiasm is very contagious and repeated doses eventually lead to a more severe condition called "passion".
Setting the bar high – the bar must be high and students must know it is high. At the end of the day, this is what they are here for – the best science and engineering education one can get. I do not believe we should ever compromise on the level or depth of our teaching. One of the most important things we can give our students is the experience that they succeeded despite of the difficulties.
Be thoughtful, be fair – setting the bar high should not be confused with being un-fair or unreasonable. Even more so, to pull students over the high bar, there must be a solid foundation of trust between the teacher and the students. On the formal side, it means there are no arbitrary decisions – the guidelines for course conduct and evaluation are (very) clearly set in writing from the very beginning. On the personal side, it means that students know they can always come to me with any real problem (professional of personal) and I will do my best to get if solved.
The "3 way" rule – studying a new field has some analogies to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. However, different students solve their puzzles in different orders and have different structures to anchor and build upon at different points along the way. For this reason my rule of thumb is to be able to explain a point in at least 2-3 different ways. In some cases, this is a real intellectual challenge and it keeps me on my toes. Beyond that, like in any puzzle, I try hard not to lose any pieces under the rug.
Teaching staff – it is difficult to overestimate the importance of a good teaching staff (TAs) to the success of a course. Naturally, TAs change from year to year which means they bring with them a fresh perspective and new ideas on how to improve the course. I was very fortunate to be teamed with superb TAs every semester.
Engineering is about putting things together – the way an academic curriculum is broken up into individual courses is and administrative necessity, but its side effect is that sometimes students see "islands of knowledge" with very little connection between them. I believe we should continuously work to create bridges to connect such islands, until they gradually merge into one big continent.
True invitation to office hours – I emphasize to students that they are most welcome to come to my office hours. Initially, many of them hesitate but, by the middle of the semester my office is so packed, that we sometimes need to move to a conference room. We talk about the course only ~70% of the time. The rest of the time I tell them about my research and about life as an engineer and researcher.
W3C" in Hebrew.
W3C" in Hebrew.