Diversity in teaching

At the moment I am teaching a Ph.D course on microwave remote sensing of the cryosphere. As a teaching team of one, it’s a lot of work; 10 hour days for two solid weeks (my goals for the weekend: sleep and sleep).

It is not all grim toil. I have the pleasure to teach a group that is diverse, motivated and has gelled well. Diverse: we have participants from Denmark, Norway, Finland and of course Sweden. Well actually, the Finn is from Greece, one of the Swedes is American whilst another is British and the Norwegian is, in fact, German. Oh, and the women outnumber the men. They have studied oceanography, geoscience, geophysics, meteorology, environmental engineering and a few other subjects I don’t remember. 

All this means that these people have a really wide range of experiences, competences, abilities and knowledge sets. They differ in their interpretations of data and context, and contribute in unique ways. They are, furthermore, well motivated. One of the great pleasures of teaching such a group is watching the group dynamic. I get to learn at least as much as those I am teaching. All this leads me to remind the sceptics that, yes, the EU does some good. Academic freedom promotes the exchange of ideas and stimulates innovation. Earky career scientists probably benefit the most. The EU facilitates academic exchange by ensuring freedom of movement and promoting academic exchanges.

I’ve another week of contact teaching before we seperate and communicate by ‘tinternet (thanks US dept. of Defense and CERN). It’ll be a long, tiring, but hopefully fruitful week. Red eyes and sleep deprivation aside I am looking forward to it.


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