I'm a typical professor in that I come to class, talk, ask questions, interject humor, use visual aides-the usual professorial stuff. I'm also quite normal in that I expect my students to work hard; in exchange, I do my best to evaluate that work in a rigorous and constructive manner.
My students tell me that I show a lot of enthusiasm for the materials I teach in class. That may be a reflection of the fact that I genuinely love my fields of study and feel very fortunate to be able to work in them for a living. But, just as likely, that enthusiasm is a mixture of the Italian excitability I've genetically inherited and the thousands of fire-and-brimstone Pentecostal sermons I heard as a kid. I must subconsciously believe that students are less likely to fall asleep if the prof is standing on a desk, ripping up his lecture notes, or sweating through two shirts while talking about Gilgamesh's quest for immortality or the political dimensions of the Book of Judges-very extreme examples, to be sure.
But excitement can't replace genuine care for students' education. So I invite students to come to the office and talk. I like to hear about their future plans. I field questions that may or may not be related to the class they are taking with me. I get to know them. This is what drew me to the teaching profession.
Something else that may be a little different about my teaching is directly related to its content: I challenge students to think critically and self-reflectively about religion and especially about the Bible as products of human culture. We bring a multi-disciplinary array of methodological tools to this task: linguistic, historical, sociological, and anthropological. This deep intellectual engagement with religious texts often touches on sensitive personal issues, perhaps even creating conflict for a student's religious identity. I know firsthand about such matters. And, again, I encourage students to visit me during office hours to think through such issues with me.
Education is nothing if it is not challenging.
Assistant Professor of Religious and Classical Studies