Whether it’s meditating in a class about equality and social justice or dancing to the Marxist dialectic in introductory philosophy, David Kahane’s unique way of actively engaging his students has earned him many teaching awards and accolades.
He is a past recipient of the prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship, the Rutherford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and the Faculty of Arts Teaching Award. His most recent honour, the University of Alberta’s Vargo Chair, is awarded to professors who demonstrate innovative and creative teaching methods that enhance the learning of undergraduate and graduate students. The award, which spans five years, will enable Kahane to develop new projects related to teaching and learning.
One of the projects Kahane will be pursuing will involve working with graduate students to better train them as teachers. Kahane recently moved to the Department of Political Science from Philosophy, where he had built up the PHIL 101 ‘Supersection’ – a class of approximately 250 students – as a training ground for graduate students who were learning to teach. He’d like to do the same in Political Science, where he will be working with the department to develop practices to support and mentor graduate students as they learn how to teach.
Kahane believes that in many cases, professors who are over-worked and stressed tend to forget how fascinating the classroom experience can be. “The dynamics of the classroom, the relationships of the classroom, all of the tiny and big choices you face in the classroom as an instructor are really intellectually gripping,” he said.
In his own classroom, Kahane says he takes a lot of pleasure in teaching and establishing relationships with his students. For Kahane, engaging his students has been a powerful and often moving experience.
“When you enter into teaching fully, it becomes its own reward.”
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