Annotations from Chapter 6, How do they treat their students?, Bain, 2004.

Berkeley, Wednesday December 12, 2018 11:28 AM 

In an interview to one of the professors of the study, he said: “The most important aspect of my teaching is the relationship of trust that develops between me and my students”

That trust meant that the teachers believed students wanted to learn, and they assumed until proven otherwise, that they could learn. That attitude found reflection in scores of small and large practices. It led to high expectations to the habit of looking inward for any problems rather than blaming some alleged student deficiency. 

“If the students don’t learn, I fail as a professor”

They shared with students their secrets about learning, how they remembered something, or the analogies they made in their mind as they built their own understanding.

With trust and openness came an unabashed and frequently expressed sense of awe and curiosity about life, and that too affected relationships that emerged. It appeared most frequently and prominently in people who had a sense of humility about themselves and their own learning. 

Professors might realize what they knew and even that their own knowledge was far greater than that of their students, but they also understood how much they didn’t know and that in the great scheme of things their own accomplishments placed them relatively close to those of their students.

“You have to be confused before you can reach a new level of understanding anything” cofessed Dudley Herschbach, the Nobel Prize winning chemist from Harvard.

On the other hand, when the ego of a professor is present often transmit a complicated message without any facilitation to students to reach that point. It creates a feeling on the students that only smart humans can understand that material.

Regarding the the practice of science, Herschbach, made an emphasis on how Nature humbles us, while we are trying to understand it and often we fail. However, we scientist still make progress on understanding it, not necessarily because we are particularly smart, but because we are stubborn.


Bain, K., 2004. What the best college teachers do. Chapter 6. How do they treat students? Harvard University Press. pp. 135-150

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s