Questions and thoughts in purple boxes in the original text
What is engineering? What differentiates an engineer from a scientist?
Few of the students in your classes will want the same career as you. [On the other hand you should not feel any need to apologise for your noble choice of career!]
Education is a process involving two sets of participants who supposedly play different roles: teachers who impart knowledge to students, and students who absorb knowledge from teachers. In fact, as every open-minded teacher discovers, education is also about students imparting knowledge to their teachers, by challenging the teachers’ assumptions and by asking questions the teachers hadn’t previously thought of. [Jared Diamond in ‘Collapse’ (2005)]
What can your students do that you couldn’t at their age?
David Ausubel was a cognitive learning theorist active in the 1960s and 70s. I don’t suggest that you need to read his work, which is, for our purposes, over-psychological but you might take to heart his central message (which I paraphrase) ‘Find out what the student knows and teach accordingly’
You might not find it easy to determine whether some or all your students have understood. ‘The one who understands does not speak; the one who speaks does not understand’ Chinese Proverb
Is the learning of engineering necessarily linear? Are other approaches possible?
Does an understanding of engineering science have to precede the appreciation of engineering applications?
What does every engineer need to know?
What does each specific type of engineer (mechanical, electronic, chemical …) need to know? You might ask yourself what you don’t know in your own subject domain, and whether it makes you less of an engineer.
Almost all the students in your class have different prior experiences from you and from each other
Many of the students in your class have different political, religious, cultural and ethical views, and different attitudes to engineering and to study, from you.
If every lecturer had to publish all their teaching material openly, in advance, what would they want or need to do in a “lecture” period?
Do all students learn in the same way that you did?
What attitudes and approaches characterise a good engineer? [The Royal Academy of Engineering currently has a research project running on this topic.]
A thought: One of the main reasons for the survival of the lecture is that you, like me, probably like giving a lecture. We became lecturers because we like theatre!
Some of the students in your class are probably quicker and smarter than you; (I always hope so!)
How should you score the pentathlon? What is the ‘correct’ way to add times and distances? (or skills and knowledge)
Life is an open-book exam
The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘evidence’, or even ‘data’: Attributed to Lee Shulman (Carnegie Foundation)
Please add more aphorisms or questions below …