Naturally it is a goal for the students to assimilate the course material. But on top of that, I would like to have my students enjoy, or at least appreciate, the material as they develop their own understanding of it. I would want to facilitate them to think about the course material and urge themselves to learn how to think. I would want to get them to ask their own questions, and encourage them to question and criticize whatever they learn. I would also like to mentor them to be effective communicators and write their own ideas in a clear and simple way. I would want them to practice working as individuals on some assignments and in teams on some others.
In some of my classes, I would want to take them to another level where they are asked to make things work (e.g., a quantum dot model, a MEMS simulation, an integrated optoelectronic circuit, an optical setup, etc.) and learn how to think inductively to debug. In some other classes, I would want to take them a step further where they can use what they learned and exercise their own creativity, perhaps even to enjoy a foretaste of inventing something. In all my classes, I expect my students practice enough learning to better learn how to learn—a skill that I think is necessary for a lifetime. I would further like to showcase the significance of a mutual honor code not only for my class but also throughout their professional careers, and expect them to hold to the same standards of honesty and respect as I hold myself to.
When all is said and done, my highest priority and greatest payoff from teaching is the satisfaction my students derive from it. I feel I have achieved something good when I have taught what I intended to teach for the day. I feel that giving something to my students, which they can accept and take, adds value to their lives as well as to mine. This is simply why I enjoy teaching.
Hilmi Volkan Demir
rev. September 2004, Bilkent University