"I don't believe I can really do without teaching. The reason is, I have to have something so that when I don't have any ideas and I'm not getting anywhere I can say to myself, "At least I'm living; at least I'm doing something; I am making some contribution" -- it's just psychological.
When I was at Princeton in the 1940s I could see what happened to those great minds at the Institute for Advanced Study, who had been specially selected for their tremendous brains and were now given this opportunity to sit in this lovely house by the woods there, with no classes to teach, with no obligations whatsoever. These poor bastards could now sit and think clearly all by themselves, OK? So they don't get any ideas for a while: They have every opportunity to do something, and they're not getting any ideas. I believe that in a situation like this a kind of guilt or depression worms inside of you, and you begin to worry about not getting any ideas. And nothing happens. Still no ideas come. Nothing happens because there's not enough real activity and challenge: You're not in contact with the experimental guys. You don't have to think how to answer questions from the students. Nothing!
In any thinking process there are moments when everything is going good and you've got wonderful ideas. Teaching is an interruption, and so it's the greatest pain in the neck in the world. And then there are the longer periods of time when not much is coming to you. You're not getting any ideas, and if you're doing nothing at all, it drives you nuts! You can't even say "I'm teaching my class." If you're teaching a class, you can think about the elementary things that you know very well. These things are kind of fun and delightful. It doesn't do any harm to think them over again. Is there a better way to present them? Are there any new problems associated with them? Are there any new thoughts you can make about them? The elementary things are easy to think about; if you can't think of a new thought, no harm done; what you thought about it before is good enough for the class. If you do think of something new, you're rather pleased that you have a new way of looking at it.
The questions of the students are often the source of new research. They often ask profound questions that I've thought about at times and then given up on, so to speak, for a while. It wouldn't do me any harm to think about them again and see if I can go any further now. The students may not be able to see the thing I want to answer, or the subtleties I want to think about, but they remind me of a problem by asking questions in the neighborhood of that problem. It's not so easy to remind yourself of these things. So I find that teaching and the students keep life going, and I would never accept any position in which somebody has invented a happy situation for me where I don't have to teach. Never." (R. Feynman)
Teaching and learning are processes that take place in a social context. It is the responsibility of the teacher to create a productive learning environment and it is the duty of the students to commit to their studies. Nothing can replace a knowledgeable, inspiring and organized teacher, equipped with a great sense of humour, not even a computer.
Favourite Teacher at Present
Professor Leonard Susskind, Stanford University
Online Lecture Series “The Theoretical Minimum”, www.theoreticalminimum.com
Pedagogical certificate – Pedagogical development program (“PEDup”), NTNU (2013-2014)
Pedagogical Initiatives & Program Development
- Implementation of innovative 3-11 Calendar ("Augustana Calendar"), unique in Canada, Department of Science, University of Alberta (2016-2018)
- Introduction of academic mentorship program for 1st-year physics students, NTNU (2014-2015)
- Program development at UOIT (2005-2006): BSc Medical Physics; MSc and PhD Modelling and Computational Science; MSc and PhD Materials Science
IT and Teaching
- Principal investigator of the nationally-funded project "Creating a computational-physics online platform with IPython Notebook", Norway (2015-2016), www.numfys.net
- IT in Education (IKTiSU) projects at NTNU (2012, 2014), involving Matlab and IPython Notebook
- Introduction of computational physics and numerical methods into most of my courses, including homework problems, projects, and final exam questions
- Significant teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level, covering small (< 20 students), medium-sized (20-50 students) and large courses (50-250 students)
- Use of tablet PC as teaching tool since 2004
- Courses taught: Calculus II, Calculus III, Ordinary Differential Equations, Mathematical Ecology and Dynamical Systems, Numerical Methods, Mathematical Modelling, Physics I, Physics II, Mechanics I, Mechanics II, Fluid Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics I, Quantum Mechanics II, History of Mathematics and Physics, Introductory Energy Science, Introductory Environment Science, Emerging Energy Technologies, Hydrogen-based Energy Systems and Fuel Cells, Physics and Geophysics, Science in Context
Courses at University of Alberta
- AUMAT 330 Ordinary Differential Equations
- AUMAT 332 Mathematical Ecology and Dynamical Systems
- AUMAT/AUPHY/AUCSC 340 Numerical Methods
- AUMAT/AUPHY 480 History of Mathematics and Physics