The Value of Teaching

The experience of teaching as a graduate student is a foundational element of doctoral education, and one of the most significant and vital parts of your professional apprenticeship. A variety of resources will help develop your pedagogical skills, among them the multiple programs available through the Center for Teaching and Learning, as well as the various pedagogical initiatives sponsored by your department.

Learning to teach will require that you develop a novel relationship to your discipline. Teaching will demand that you be able to explain the presuppositions and the fundamental questions of your field; it will also lead you to articulate how your particular interests fit within it, as well as how much your work conforms with or pushes beyond those disciplinary conventions. Preparing a class, or to lead a discussion or lab section, will allow you to identify your own intellectual lacunae, and inculcate the valuable habit of anticipating potential questions from your audience.

You will also learn skills that will be of help to you irrespective of your ultimate professional trajectory. Learning the most effective techniques for communicating your subject matter, managing time both for a single class session and for an entire semester, evaluating the work of your students fairly and accurately, are all abilities that will make you both a great pedagogue and a great professional.

The mutual imbrication of teaching and research will sustain both during your graduate years at Columbia. The Graduate School and your department are committed to helping you explore this creative and rewarding relationship in its manifold dimensions.