Philosophy of teaching by Kestutis Bendinskas

If someone had told me about 20 years ago that I would love teaching in the future, I wouldn't have believed it. As a student, I was interested in researching how to save the Earth from the impact of industrial wastes. It took me years to migrate from pure research to teaching and to comprehend the old biblical story about the candle. It says that a candle is completely useless if covered by a pot. Only a candle that shines brightly is needed.I concluded then, that only a scientist that shares his knowledge with the coming generation, is a true scientist. That meant to me that I had to learn to teach. At this point, I think that teaching (along with research) is the most fulfilling job of all.

To teach is to give knowledge. To teach is to give advice, to explain how and, most importantly, to show why things work the way they do. To teach is to respect and to treat all students equally. To teach is to respect yourself and behave appropriately, as the teacher is the one to look up to, the one who knows the answers to many questions.

The soul of teaching is to help students understand. It is a teacher’s responsibility to explain better than a textbook does. If students make mistakes, they should have a chance to correct them, and to learn from them.

Teaching is an art of patience and discipline. It is the most responsible duty on Earth after being a parent. Teachers are the ones who direct the future of the whole society by being exposed to young people all the time.

Teaching brings joy and satisfaction with the spark of comprehension in the eyes of a student, and a pride for the profession with the achievements of the pupils.

A teacher of chemistry can show the elegance and logic of this science and dissipate the aura of difficulty surrounding it. The beauty of this science is in simple and convincing experiments of changing matter that every student can perform in the laboratory. A true teacher of science will convey the principles of the responsible use of knowledge and inspire students to protect the environment.

I think that teaching is a process of learning for both the students and the teachers. I value student feedback and peer evaluations. I find that I am learning how to better my teaching every semester.

To improve my classes, I read the pedagogical literature and use methods of active learning. I administer a standard national ACS Biochemistry test to measure students’ performance. Often, results speak very highly of students’ achievements in a class where lecture is combined with active peer-led discussion, multiple writing assignments, test retakes, and peer grading. I will continue using these methods in my classes.I use Personal Response (clicker) System in my larger classes. Even though these interactive systems are in their infancy, it is obvious by student evaluations that they highly value this opportunity to participate in the learning process.

Teaching is simple. You just have to love all of your students, no matter how good or bad they are. You have to devote more time to them than to yourself. And that is what defines a true Teacher. Simple..? How can one explain that learning is not a game? How can one make students believe in themselves? How does one assure them that every single person can make a huge impact on the society? How does one persuade them to achieve excellence in every assignment? These are the questions that I haven't yet fully answered. I  am searching for answers while meeting young people, talking to them, reading their papers, and keeping in touch with those who remember me- students are my teachers.

 Last Updated 9/16/07