Professor Katherine K. Merseth has taught for over 40 years, both in K-12 and higher education. She currently teaches at Harvard University and Harvard College. Watch her Kauffman Sketchbook video here. The following text is adapted from a PowerPoint presentation used in one of her undergraduate classes at Harvard College.
Why I Teach:
• I teach because when I teach I learn…and I LOVE to LEARN.
• I teach because I am constantly challenged and I am never bored.
• I teach because no two classes, no two years, no two students are exactly the same. It changes constantly. Context (and culture) matter.
• Teaching is never the same because as David Cohen has said, “Teaching is a human endeavor.”
• I teach because I love my subject matter and love the puzzle of communicating that passion to my students.
What I Need to Teach Well:
• Content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge & pedagogical content knowledge
• Psychological knowledge of child and adult development
• The ability (and courage) to step outside of myself to take risks—and to reflect
• Fortitude—both emotional and physical
• Support—both intrinsically and extrinsically
• Humility and empathy
Why YOU Should Teach:
• You will learn more about yourself in a shorter period of time than ever before.
• You will experience unbelievable emotional highs and lows—exhilaration when a struggling student ‘gets it’ and despair when students fail through no fault of their own.
• Teaching is a great preparation for life.
• You will learn what it means to be responsible for and a leader of human beings.
• The only way schools in this country will ever meet the needs of all students is to have capable, thoughtful, and committed teachers who care deeply about students.