Source: Chriz, “What my professor replied with when asked by a bunch of students for an extension on an essay.” Imgur. 19 November 2013
Rex “King” Brynen, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Q: What advice do you have for undergraduate students about how to get the most out of your courses?
A: First, don’t leave all the reading until the end of the semester! Otherwise, you’ll miss all kinds of references and connections that are essential for understanding the lectures and for writing term papers. It is also rather hard to absorb a lot of material in a short time.
Second, engage the professor. Email me, arrange to see me, put your hand up in class. With hundreds of students, I can’t always see them all right away, but every student who wants to see me, ask a question, disagree with me or know how something relates to his or her career should make a point of emailing me, chatting with me after class, raising it in an online discussion, or dropping by the office. I advise students to not just sit and passively receive the material: debate it, discuss it, follow up on interesting ideas.
Q: Why do you teach?
A: I really love it. At McGill, the students come from interesting backgrounds, from all over the planet, and they are really bright and motivated. In my classes, I’ve heard students casually comment that “I fled Sarajevo,” “My mum is a Supreme Court justice,” or “I spent last summer as a war-crimes investigator.” I also run into former and current students around the world. If I announce my travel plans on Facebook, sure enough a student will pop up and say something like “I’m working for the government of Iran now—let me know when you’re in Tehran.” That kind of global network of students energizes my teaching and can be quite useful for research purposes, too.
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