Teaching

 

Philosophy


Philosophies of learning and teaching are varied but none of them offer me an adequate guide on how to succeed in the classroom.  Such philosophies vary according to culture and other contexts.   Even the question of classroom success can vary greatly depending upon legal, social or environmental objectives.  Thus, what is summarized below has been deduced through study, but mostly through experience.


My first concern in all teaching situations is respect for and motivation of students.  Stimulating curiosity is important.  This is accomplished by a highly animated, interactive teaching style that always seeks to present material in a manner that addresses the every day experience of students.  I never read a paper or lecture, but talk with students, not at students.  Creating as level a playing field as possible is essential.  Respect must be mutual.  It is earned not declared. Questions are welcomed and encouraged at all times.  I take the viewpoint that ‘there are no dumb questions, only dumb answers.’  At the same time the highest level of scholarly work must be digested and offered to students for their consideration. 


In all teaching situations I utilize power point slides drawn from over 1000 images collected over decades of research.  All classes are prepared with both scholarly sources, professional documents, and personal experience.  Because I have visited most of the large cities of the United States, most of the world’s megacities and approximately half the countries of the world and met with hundreds of officials, I am able to  often talk first hand about the subject of a class.  For example, in a course on comparative Criminology or Legal Systems, I can refer to discussions with Mayors in Lagos, Nigeria; Sao Paulo, Brazil; or Mexico City, Mexico or Shanghai, China.  I believe I am not immodest to suggest that I have more domestic and international experience with policy makers than most teachers.  This is important to my teaching objectives, and is always of interest to students.   Students appreciate this kind of experience brought to teaching.


I have had experience teaching in small seminars and large lecture halls of 1,000 people.  For me, successful teaching requires intense knowledge of the subject together with outstanding speaking skills.  Success as a public speaker,  in a coffee clatch or with audiences up to 100,000 people, is an excellent asset. 


I follow certain general procedures in classes:  the class starts on time and I ask students not to come if more than 5 minutes late; I ask students to address me as Barry, and not as Doctor, Professor, or Mr.; I distribute copies of my power point slides or other handouts at the outset of class so there is no pressure to take notes, or notes can be taken on the handouts.  At the outset of the class students are invited to ask questions or comment on prior classes or events that relate to the course. My goal is for students to think and question, not record what is said.  Grades are mostly determined by two papers.  One is a short mid term summary of their topic for the final paper.  Then the final paper is the most important determinant of the grade.  My preference is for students to pick a subject of their choosing and produce a paper or a film or some other class product.  Most often I will suggest a series of subjects.  Experience has taught me that when a student is working on a subject of their interest, learning is maximized. 


Over the years I have developed a signature course, Global Violence or Global Peace.  This course offers a unique overview of some of the pivotal issues in sociology, criminology, and urbanization.

Anonymous Student Evaluations


“For the first time in so many years I’ve been awakened beyond my realm.”

“The class, its content, the format, and most important, the teacher, is outstanding.  I use the present tense because the things that I have learned will forever remain with me.  Barry Weisberg presented the material with such passion and vigor that I consider myself privileged to have been part of his class.


“I would like to say that that by far this is the most informative class I have taken to date at Roosevelt.  From the beginning of the class Mr. Weisberg presented the course in a proficient and professional manner.  I think it was to my advantage to have taken good notes because the information that was provided will aid me in future endeavors, I am certain.  The format of the class presentations, the handouts, and open forum, was enjoyable and helpful.  The instructor’s presentation was articulate and clear.  The organization that was provided set a quality example.”


“This has been the most structured and organized seminar I have ever attended.  Every session had a new and enlightening topic. The use of the computer kept the class moving at a comfortable pace.  Barry Weisberg is the most interesting person for this class and probably the most interesting person I will ever meet….”


“I learned more about life, the history of our country, and facts about our country and the world in this class than I have learned in my entire education.  I am extremely impressed with his wealth of knowledge and his ability to communicate all of it in such an organized manner.  Weisberg was always willing to explain things if necessary when questions were asked, and he explained a most difficult subject in a way that was interesting and understandable…”


Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Interdisciplinary Seminar  on Global Violence or Global Peace (6 Units, 30 Class Sessions).  All lectures with PowerPoint.  Copies of all Lectures distributed in class.  2003

Courses


China and the United States: A Comparison and Contrast


Comparative Law and Justice


Ecocide: The Fate of Globalization


From Socialism to the Socialist Market in China


Global Violence and Global Peace


Globalization and Urbanization


Introduction to Sociology


Introduction to Social Science


Introduction to Political Science


Law and Society:  Social Control-A Cross Cultural Comparison of Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, and the United States


The Ecology of Capitalism and Socialism


The Prospects for Justice


Urban Sociology


Urban Violence Prevention and Peace Promotion