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July 16, 2010 / Brent Sears

Instructional Genius

Yesterday I posted about Dr Bill Hopkins.  I learned more in his class than any other class I took in college, and here is why:

1).  Bill “wasted” the first 50 minutes by going around the room and asking each one of us to tell him, and the class, why we were there.  He got to know us, and we got to know each other.  He also wrapped up the session by saying, You know what you are doing and why you’re here, and I will be giving you the best stuff I have found in my 30+ years of teaching: all while cutting out the crap!  Any questions? Extending that trust set the tone for the rest of the semester and it was genius.

2).  Every class was like eating a gourmet meal that came from a lifetime of real-world experiences.  There were no fillers, no artificial sweeteners, and no preservatives.  His stories were relevant, he talked about his failures and what he learned, and he told us what he thought.  He introduced us to the best people in the world via the Internet.  He did not just tell us about their work, he showed us where we could find it ourselves.  We were learning because we didn’t have to worry about textbooks, homework assignment, and other minutiae disguised as “real learning.”

3).  Bill didn’t expect us to read his mind.  He told us what was important, how to study, and what he expected of us.  How dare he define his expectations, and save hours of study time, and nervous breakdown-style cramming the night before the exam.  Guess what?  As a class we learned a lot more because he took the stress out of the room on the first day.  Most professors don’t know how to do that under the guise of academic rigor.

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