I look back at my undergraduate years with great fondness. I was fortunate to study the nascent discipline of Computing Science in the 1970s in a new department at Simon Fraser University. The university had a reputation for extending or ignoring rules. In many units participation was an important component of our grade, which was revolutionary then.
There were as yet no graduate students in the department, so in my third year I was invited to be a Teaching Assistant. A new second-year unit about data structures and algorithms was offered. It was about computerised problem-solving methods. I had picked up bits here and there, but I had much to learn. The Prof passed me his lecture notes a week in advance. Then to a cohort of about twenty students I ran the tutorials and marked assignments. The students responded well to me.
There were two exams given which I monitored from the front of the room. The students didn’t realise that I was registered alongside them in the course. I was genuinely sitting the exams right in front of them! I should be more humble here, but what the heck, I aced them. It turned out to be the perfect learning experience.
There were some very bright students in that class. I learned even better by really having to perform it every week.
In today’s world of standardised, assessment-driven, demarcated, institutionalised learning, I doubt such a stunt could ever be pulled off again….
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