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McGill Reporter
March 9, 2000 - Volume 32 Number 12
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At issue

What are the qualities that set your favourite professors apart from your not-so-favourite professors? What are the characteristics that you think the best teachers share with one another?


Vincent Paul Escanlar,
science student

Genetics professor Howard Bussey once commented that "most university professors aren't qualified to teach at high school" — they don't have the teaching skills to match their expertise. Good professors don't just "teach;" they "profess." They exude enthusiasm (even at 8h30!), transforming a tedious weeder course into a real experience of discovery; you can hear their passion through the static of the microphone. My favourite profs don't always make the subject easy — they motivate students to explore the course and understand it fully. And most importantly, a good professor makes your studies feel worthwhile.

Tiffany Candlish,
women's studies and
cultural studies student

Since I have been at McGill, I can honestly say that I have only had four or five professors (most of whom have since left) who were outstanding. These professors fostered thinking in their classes by asking us to do more than merely regurgitate our text books. The professors that stand out in my mind were excellent lecturers and attempted to stray from the old school teaching techniques.

Mark Luz,
law student

Great professors give you the impression that they really have a passion for what is being taught. There is nothing worse than a professor who is clearly bored with the subject. Of course, not every subject can evoke an intensity of emotion that will carry the student along for a heart-pounding ride. However, I am a big-picture kind of student, so to me, the truly excellent professor can take a basic or required course and show how it fits into the broader scheme of things, how the micro fits into the macro.

Ashley Miller,
medical student

The ability to teach well is a gift. What distinguishes gifted teachers is their enthusiasm for the subject matter and ability to inspire and motivate their students. The professors I value most are those who helped foster in me the confidence that I can achieve my goals; they are the ones who gave me the questions I needed in order to search for knowledge and who sparked my desire to find questions of my own. And, come to think of it, they are also the ones who made me laugh.

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