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2017 Distinguished Teaching Award Recipients


– There’s a kind of violence
in the ways in which people are being, you
know, bullied into settling for easy answers to really
complex, difficult questions. Indeed it’s vital now
that we promote openness, curiosity, a sense that
questions remain questions, or questions open onto other questions. [Dreamlike Synthesizer Music] – One of the reasons I like teaching is that I learn from it, and if you ask students questions, their answers are really insightful. – One of their biggest
problems is that they didn’t account for heat at all in their model- – [Teacher] They’re
bringing to the classroom a range of experiences,
and what they often share and articulate is very thoughtful, and offers a different way of thinking. – My father was a political prisoner and received political asylum here in the United States, and I wanted to teach
because it was somehow a way of giving back to a society that had given my parents
basically, you know, a chance. – I had a great teacher
of ancient history, and I developed a passion
from really that moment. Historians call the the third century– For me the goal of teaching history is to take students though the process of making an argument based on evidence, and generating their own interpretations. – I vividly remember reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens when I was, I was about nine years old. It was an unexpurgated
edition of the novel, it wasn’t cleaned up for the young reader, so I remember being completely freaked out by the scene in which Sykes, who’s this thuggish criminal, beats out the brains
of a prostitute, Nancy, and this made a very powerful impression. – Hey folks. You know when I first started teaching, my thought process was, I needed a job, for real, that was my thought process. And then, once I started teaching, it sort of just, it sort of
kept feeding me, you know? And I really appreciated
what I felt what I was getting out of it, the
relationships I was building, the amount I learned, I learned far more teaching than I ever
learned in graduate school. Sorry to my teachers. [Laughs] – To this period, people
have developed models– What we’re trying to do when we teach is help people understand
where ideas come from, what we don’t know, and to
become critical thinkers. – A big thing that I feel
like I spend a lot of time in my class is focused
on is kinda get students to understand how they’re
related to the problems that they see out in the world and are hoping to fix. – Engineering is playing for keeps. If you make a mistake and something that people’s lives depend upon, it could have real ramifications, and that’s something that, you know, is important to tell students. We’re not messing around here. – I try to create an
environment in the classroom that’s open and welcoming to the students, and I think they really
pick up on this idea, that it’s okay to try out
new ideas, new arguments, it’s okay to be wrong. – Having the opportunity to really push on a student hard, in a way that they’re uncomfortable,
and then be with them through it all the way, that’s when they’re
like “Oh, you know what? I can take a risk here, this
person’s going to have my back, even after I screw up.” – [Mumbles] Versus, to mark
something, like [Mumbles]- – I’m always grateful to the students who have the courage to
say that they’re stumped, or to ask a very basic question about what may be the categories
everybody else was thinking was obvious, and perhaps
not obvious at all, or the very obviousness is
blinding us to something interesting or problematic
that’s going on. – And certainly when we reach the edge of my understanding, I’m more than happy to acknowledge that and point
out where I’m speculating, where we’re hypothesizing. – When you’re given a question that you don’t know the answer to, this can really facilitate the kind of collaborative learning that
benefits the whole class. – Happened [Mumbles] Or
two later as opposed to- – They can see me modeling for them the process of working
out plausible answers, persuasive answers, and I
think that encourages them to try the same thing. – Debate, especially in
sciences is really important, and I think it’s engaging. Neither of them know what
they’re talking about. [Classroom Laughs] Everyone gets excited if
you can see a fight coming. – For me, what’s crucial,
what I want to happen in the classroom is to
get students excited, and to have them come away hungry. – So it seems as if
it’s Maurice recognizing the absence of- – The students at Berkeley are just so intensely curious, much
more so than in other places I’ve taught. – Look how many of them are
first gen college students. You’re first in your
family to go to college, and you’re at Berkeley? Talk about killin’ it. – Of course engineers always get a bad rap that they’re somewhat myopic,
tunnel-vision type people. That’s simply not the case
for a modern Berkeley student. I think they’re very well-rounded, socially conscious, they
want what they learn in class to be applicable to the
betterment of society, and that is something very unique. – Berkeley students are really ambitious, and they’re extremely talented. They go on to be world
leaders in politics, and business, and academia, and because they’re so talented we learn a tremendous amount from them. – It’s rooted in the written
word in like a decree. – [Professor] Yeah, brilliant. When a class goes well, I really feel like I’m cheating them, we come from a class, and
I feel that I’m the one that’s actually done the learning, maybe more perhaps than they have. – Every time someone comes from a completely orthogonal direction that I had never even thought about, perhaps because they come from a culture that I have never had an encounter with, it helps me as a human being, learn more and more and more. – In this context particularly- I work with my students
through some of this messiness that’s happening in our country right now, first and foremost by
connecting with them. – Can’t help it. [Classroom Laughs] – In light of what’s going on in sort of national and world politics, suddenly what we perhaps
all took for granted in an earlier age we can
no longer take for granted. – There are things that we
know and things we understand, and so I suppose at one
level in the sciences, we are trying to teach or understand what that truth is, what the reality is. That may come with an uncertainty, but putting a lot of volume
behind some alternative version of that reality
doesn’t make it true. – Probably at no time is
that more important than now, when evidence and truth and facts have come up for debate in a way that goes beyond a kind of healthy respect for the ambiguities of evidence. – So in our introductory
course we talk about climate change. There are lots of news
stories about climate, and there’s a fair number of news stories that we would now call fake news, and so it becomes a teaching moment if someone brings up a news story, we can figure out where
the data comes from, is it reliable? Is it not? – There’s a lot of
conversation about how people aren’t talking to each other. At least here they’re
like, oh we don’t know how the other side thinks, this is binary. I think one of the most
important things to do right now as a teacher is
to smash those binaries. – It’s a thinking
together of the questions and issues that we’re facing, and in that sense it is
a collaborative work. – I think the true keys
to the success of the- One of the most important things I think history can do is to
give our students a sense of context, a sense of
where they are in time and space, and how we
might remake the world in a better way. – Those of us who are scientists do what we do because we
know that what we’re studying affects how we understand the earth, and hopefully that
translates into something bigger and better for humanity. – What’s important today is the ability to teach students how to have an impact on society that is lasting and meaningful. I can’t think of a place that does that in a better way than Berkeley. [Piano Music Fades]

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