UNSW Teaching Excellence

In the words of Jane Austen “It is a truth universally acknowledged that Science and Mathematics are hard.” That may not have been exactly what she said, but you shouldn’t believe everything you read. Regardless, her words ring true. Science and Mathematics students can be instantly identified by their circle-darkened eyes and their singular diet of caffeine. They tend to spend a lot of time crying, which may lend itself to their malnourished, dehydrated look. But that may just be the coffee. If a degree were a bush track, science and maths students have to walk up the Himalayas on their hands, juggling eggs with their feet. Yet occasionally a lecturer will come along who is so brilliant, you find it more like merely walking up the Himalayas. Well the national Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) awards go to those who make it a stroll along the beach.

Having always struggled with maths, partially because of my sneaking suspicion it’s merely the fudging you do to get your physics fitting the real world, Professor Tisdell managed to actually make me detest it less. He’s funny, tells great stories, has made a valiant effort to integrate social media into his teaching and his genuine enthusiasm is catching. Great qualities for someone attempting to teach possibly the worst subject to teach. Even now, when he is no longer my lecturer I stalk his YouTube channel looking for clues. It’s incredibly comprehensive and highly recommended from someone now doing a maths course where there are NO LONGER ANY NUMBERS. Unsurprisingly and most deservedly, Professor Tisdell has won numerous awards, he is essentially the Meryl Streep of maths.

Another honourable mention is Professor Scott Kable of Chemistry, who openly admitted the course was dreadful, and then managed to make statistics interesting and useful. For anyone familiar with a statistics course, which I can compare to being gently harpooned with a needle filled with elephant tranquiliser, while Tony Abbott sings a lullabye, you will realise that this is no mean feat.  Those familiar with statistics will also appreciate the irony behind using the phrase “mean feat”. Professor Kable has also won awards, but they were when he was at the University of Sydney, so we don’t mention those. Another winner of the national Office for Learning and Teaching was Dr Louise Lutze-Mann. I’ve never personally had any experience with her, yet peers have assured me she was fantastic. Someone actually used the words “enthusiastic”. They also enjoyed the way she attempted to be original in her teaching, and she was definitely “fun”.

So whilst attempting to navigate bush trails is a terrible metaphor for academic learning, the lecturers at UNSW are really happy to help out anyway. I would personally like to thank them for their efforts in teaching the sleep-deprived, coffee-saturated collections of cynicism they are saddled with, and for some of them, even trying to do it well!

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