"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to All and a Happy New Year

The year 2013 is about to be over. It is holiday season. It is always a perfect time to reflect and look back. Blogs about education usually take a break at this time as well. This morning, however, I happened to come across an article in the Huffington Post entitled "This Is The Type Of Holiday Gift Every Teacher Wants" by Rebecca Klein. It was about a note math teacher Jennifer Davis received from one of her students:


Reading this note made me look at back more than a decade ago when I was still new at teaching General Chemistry at Georgetown University. At the end of each semester, students at Georgetown are given the opportunity to comment anonymously about the course they just took. The following are the comments I received from one class ten years ago.
  • I didn't do particularly well in this course, yet I think Prof. de Dios taught me much more than many of the classes I have done well in.  This applies to life and chemistry.
  • Very challenging.  I liked the fact that we learned from and did problems based on research papers.  Perhaps, more in-class problem solving would prove beneficial.  I think that Professor de Dios was an outstanding Chemistry professor.  I really enjoyed coming to class and never felt bored, because he was always so enthusiastic and entertaining.
  • Prof. de Dios seemed very well prepared, and his website was extremely helpful.  Overall was a very great experience.  Thank you.
  • It is much easier this semester to register the concepts into my head because you learn the "tricks of the trade", but I wish the logic behind them can be explained more often and in more detail.
  • I feel that I will definitely come out of this course with an ability to apply material learned and problem solving skills to a higher degree that I had felt possible in the past.
  • actually learned stuff this semester not just a whole "memorize for the test - forget about it the next day" thing
  • I really like Dr. de Dios' style of teaching.  I think the material was harder than the previous semester but he made me want to do my best.  His style of teaching encouraged me to do well.  He was always available for questions.  The problem sets are very helpful.
  • I enjoyed coming to class and was very interested in the material, though it was very difficult.  I think Prof. de Dios is an excellent teacher.  He taught us many valuable things about chemistry, but even more importantly, I learned a lot about being a better person.  His lecture on the last day of class will be fresh in my memory for a long time to come.
  • de Dios made class interesting by applying Chem to real world situations.  He was always helpful when I came to see him in his office.
  • As difficult and frustrating as chemistry can be, your encouragement and confidence in our class helps me to keep everything in perspective.  First semester was rough, but I'm glad that I stuck with it.  You are one of the best instructors that I've had at Georgetown.
  • I am not a huge chem fan but the class was good.
  • Excellent.
  • Dr. de Dios was an outstanding professor.  I have learned much more this semester than last semester.  Not only was he excited about his subject and enthusiastic about teaching us, but he also gave us ways to apply chemistry to everyday life.  He has made this class interesting to attend.  He was personable, friendly and willing to help the students.  He encouraged us and told us he believed we could do this.
  • Professor de Dios was the best professor by far that I have had here.  He is able to bring real life into the classroom which is difficult to do considering the subject being taught.
  • Topics were presented clearly and practice problems were a good practice for tests.  Always well prepared with problems to demonstrate topics.
  • I was often confused in the lectures.  However, I found his problem sets and old exams very helpful.
  • Prof. de Dios did a great job teaching us.  I really liked the fact that he applied chemistry to our lives.  Although I may never continue my study of chemistry, I will always appreciate its importance because of Prof. de Dios.
  • Professor de Dios was one of the most outstanding professors I have had here at Georgetown.  His commitment and dedication to teaching are evident in his thorough lectures and his availability in office hours.  He taught a challenging course and I definitely learned a lot.
  • Chemistry is definitely not one of my favorite subjects, but somehow I was able to enjoy it by the style of teaching.  I was challenged to look more thoroughly into chemistry and it was a great thrill when I understood something and actually enjoyed it also.  I never liked to miss any of the classes because of the professor.  Thank you so much for your your enthusiasm in teaching.  You are able to express the objectives of the class wonderfully.  I did not only learn about chemistry, but I was able to learn about myself as a person.
  • I thought the class was taught well, and I liked having the website which provided problem sets, lecture notes and practice tests.  Professor de Dios was an extremely creative professor and I feel he has prepared the class with a good chemistry base.
  • I enjoyed how this course emphasized understanding the material.  First semester, I found myself memorizing but never seeing the overall picture in chemistry.  After this semester I am able to see how chemistry is not a list of separate subjects, but different concepts that work together.  The one thing you taught me this semester that I think is the most important to me is confidence.  You were very inspirational and made me think I was more than capable of something and pushed me to work harder.
  • The website is extremely helpful.  Eventhough the material covered can be difficult to grasp, the site allowed is to have constant access and confirmation of topics covered.  I attended every one of your lectures and especially enjoyed your guitar and singing!  The material was easier to understand through lecture, and you always guided us through, making sure that we were not too overwhelmed or frustrated.  You were very available and helpful during office hours.  First semester chem was torture, but this semester was slightly less.
  • This has been the most difficult course I have ever taken, yet Dr. de Dios inspired me much more than any other professor and should be honored for his techniques and integrated approach.
  • General Chem is not a course that can be easily taught and understood by students.  The fact that this class was interesting and didn't make me fall asleep is something of an accomplishment.  Just kidding, but still I did learn a lot in this course, but most of what I did learn was beyond what a textbook can offer.  There was a lot of heart in this course.  It's a rarity to find this, but it's also peaceful to find heart, love, kindness and faith in a course.  Keep it up!
  • Thank you for being a real teacher, to take your work so passionately.  You've been an inspiration and you've opened up a lot of issues that I've had a hard time wrestling with such as competition and learning (real learning), how to affect the world, but having the skills to do so, and these are very important issues.  I hope you continue to teach and learn this way.  Talking with you made me think a lot more about what is more important and what road to take.
  • Web design was convenient, very useful for when I needed to miss class.
  • This course has been challenging, demanding, yet also enjoyable and fascinating.  Professor de Dios is one of the most outstanding professors I have had the pleasure of being taught by thus far at Georgetown.  He always project an admirable and impressive enthusiasm for what he teaches.
  • In my opinion, you should be signed to a big name record label.
  • This course was much better than last semester.  Prof. de Dios is my best prof. this semester.  He made the material understandable and interesting.  I enjoyed this course.
  • Contents of the course, while difficult, were always presented in an interesting fashion.  Guitars always add to the value of a course.  The web site, in addition to the problem sets, were also tremendously useful, and added, not detracted from the course.  Professor de Dios, you are undoubtedly the best professor I have had in college.  Georgetown needs more professors like you.
  • Chemistry is an interesting subject and in this course, all the necessary topics were covered completely.  Professor de Dios is always prepared for class.  He is constantly finding new ways to present material and in so doing, clarifies topics and makes them interesting for everyone.
  • Professor de Dios has been one of the more memorable instructors that I have had in my first year here.  He has been humorous yet helpful.
  • Prof. de Dios genuinely cared about us as a class and people.  I think that is rare and should be commended.  I would enjoy having Prof. de Dios as a teacher for a smaller class.
  • The instructor did a wonderful job.  He taught the material well, and things were graded fairly.  He also helped us to apply the class to our lives and didn't just teach chemistry.
  • I thought it was great.  I think he tries really hard to make the class interesting and also informative.  He also seems to be one of very few teachers I have ever had that cares for his students sincerely, not only how they perform in class, but as persons.
  • Chem is my hardest class, but is necessary to go where I want to go - Prof. de Dios made it a more enjoyable class this term.  Prof. de Dios made the class very challenging - but taught the material in a way where I was motivated to study the material and was able to understand new concepts by using his website and going to lectures.
  • de Dios was good - always prepared.  He should slow down sometimes and write on the chalkboard, instead of relying on the computer.
  • Quite a difficult topic, but Professor de Dios did a great job staying on target and getting us what we needed to know every lecture.  No time was wasted.  Well done for a general intro. science course.  Professor de Dios is great.  He tries various new and fresh things (singing, phone calls, models) to bring interest to an otherwise would-be long lecture.  Handing back the tests and talking helps, as he gave me a pep talk when I needed it, after not doing so well on an exam.  He always encourages one's personal best and is fair.  Thanks!
  • I definitely liked this course better than first semester.  Although the material was challenging, it was broken up in a very good way.
  • Professor de Dios is the best!  I can see that he truly cares about his students and is passionate about chemistry.  He is always ready for lecture and is always willing to help us whenever he can.
  • The course meets its objectives well, but there should still be consideration for those who have no chemistry background.
  • Very interesting and much more informative/interesting than last semester (CHEM 001).  Topics covered were difficult but important.
  • Very good singer and model Atenean.
  • I truly admire the incorporation of Jesuit ideals into this class - This is one major reason I chose Georgetown.  This class was very challenging and helped me realize in what areas my talents lie.
  • Very well thought out and organized.  Dr. de Dios is an engaging professor with a true passion for chemistry.  He took chemistry beyond the textbook and exams and made it relevant to our development as human beings.  Thank you.
  • Professor de Dios is an amazing instructor.  He definitely made chemistry fun and more understandable for me.
  • He was interesting and funny.  Kept me interested enough to attend class regularly.
  • If you aren't involved, you'll flunk.  Dr. de Dios always gave 110%, even when ill.  It took a lot of courage for him to play the guitar for us.
  • Very effective at presenting the scientific and humanity issues of the subject.
  • Course requires effort and time, but manageable.  Instructor is consistently enthusiastic, available, patient, accessible and helpful.
  • de Dios is a very good professor who genuinely enjoy teaching and does everything he can to help his students learn and succeed.
  • Instructor not only tried to make chemistry interesting with real life applications and examples, but he also tried to "educate the whole person" by leaving us with moral questions and messages.
  • Problem sets very helpful, as well as lecture notes.  Review sessions before the hour exam pointed my studying in the right direction.  Exam returns in person gave me a sense of a one-on-one relationship that you have with each of your students.  It is obvious that you care a great deal about your students.  Thank you for the semester, I learned a great deal of information about both chemistry and life.
  • This course is a great intro course for students with and without a chemistry background.  The course is taught well and promotes an interest in chemistry.
  • The instructor clearly displays a mastery of the subject matter and presents it in a comprehensive way.  The instructor is always eager to help and gets the student eager to learn more about chemistry.
  • Best professor yet at Georgetown.  Seems to care about actually learning the material.  Always working hard to make class great.
  • good - interesting topics, well-prepared, nice, funny - sometimes in his own world but in a good way.
  • I think the instructor is very dedicated and really cares that the student learns from the class.
  • Sometimes a little confusing, but eventually would explain things in a way which made sense.  A good lecturer.
  • Prof. de Dios makes chemistry interesting.
  • Dr. de Dios is one of the best professors I have had yet.  The only problem I had with him was when I went to get my tests back - I felt somewhat overcriticized.  Other than that, this was a good class - I learned a lot.
  • It was stimulating, challenging and interesting.  de Dios is an excellent instructor because he attempts and succeeds in applying what we learn to the real world.  He was supportive and helpful, always encouraging us and giving us the tools to do our best.  He has been a memorable professor.
  • He is really committed to the students and is less concerned about the numbers involved in grading than in actual improvement and learning.
  • Prof. de Dios made class interesting.  He was always well-prepared, obviously knew what he was talking about, and established high standards while at the same time trying to keep us grounded and realistic.  I would recommend his class to anyone, even those who don't necessarily like chemistry.
  • I feel the test were not an accurate reflection of knowledge acquired.  large pt. values were deducted for small errors and small pt. values attributed to difficult questions.
  • de Dios taught the course in a manner that was easy to understand and direct.  As an STIA major I found his emphasis on history and topically relevant issues refreshing.  I've learned an extraordinary amount from this course.
  • I really appreciate your efforts to include the spiritual elements of Jesuit education in your course.  You should be a model for all professors at GU.
  • Very animated, worked hard to make lectures interesting and seemed to actually care about the students.  an excellent professor.
  • Best organized instructor I've had.  All problem sets, lecture notes, practice tests were laid out for anyone willing to work hard and learn it.  Material was not easy but he made it very accessible!  Thank you.
  • The instructor is well-organized, intelligent - always able to explain complex subjects in an interesting and simple manner, made every effort to assist and be in contact with the students.  A great person.
  • The instructor is always extremely well prepared but sometimes unwilling to quickly review an old topic that relates directly to a new material, because "we should know it by now".
  • All science professors should learn from the way de Dios present somewhat  boring material in an interesting way.  This was a great class.
  • This is an excellent course for freshmen because it is designed to encourage students to go on into the sciences, instead of weeding them out.  de Dios is one of the best I have had.
  • Professor de Dios is among the best professors I've ever had.  It was amazing to realize how much you could learn about yourself and life from a chemistry course.
  • Thank you for making chem a little different and more exciting.  I like the new dimension you gave to the class.
  • Professor de Dios was well prepared and very organized in his lectures.
  • Prof. de Dios is truly one of - if not the single most dynamic and interesting professors I have had thus far at Georgetown.
  • I would recommend this instructor to any student.
  • This course was a great improvement from Gen Chem I.  Professor de Dios is an outstanding professor, not only does he have strong pedagogical methods, but he is extremely fair and personal.
  • When I came in for help, very terse and confrontational, didn't really allow me to voice my concerns, was there for office hours but seemed forced and not helpful in that regard.
  • Very positive and encouraging, I always felt comfortable speaking with him outside of class.
  • This guy is a fruit cake.  I'm hear to learn chem, not listen to him play the guitar.
  • Prof. de Dios was vital to inspiring me to do better in the class.  Had he not met with us all individually for the first test, I would have not tried at all for the rest of the semester.
  • This course was very informative - a good mix of review from high school and introduction to new concepts.  It was very well taught- with all of the topics covered clearly in depth.
  • Prof. de Dios was an amazing teacher.  He taught lucidly and in depth and was always available for help when needed.  He impressed me with his intellect and ability to share that intellect with his students.
  • The course was kind of tough but it was a good class.  I really enjoyed the professor.  He is a very nice man and he is not that intimidating.  He makes students feel comfortable and he never puts anyone down.  He always has words of encouragement.
  • Problem sets rock.  Prof. de Dios made it easy to understand the material through lectures, demonstrations and sample problems.
  • Doing sample problems in class was a very helpful review; lecture notes and what was said in lecture did not always match up well or it was difficult to see the correlation.
  • Very good job, he kept things funny yet informative.  I really enjoyed the class, Play Guitar!
  • I think the talents of this instructor are better suited for teaching higher level chem courses.  He's very good, but seems to be beyond accessing students who need more basic help.
  • The course covered a broad scope of essential and challenging material which taught me much.  Professor de Dios is a great lecturer, giving stimulating lectures, which are a pleasure to attend.  He is helpful and clear, and challenges us to do our best.
  • Prof. de Dios was great.  His guitar playing was a nice break from the norm.  I enjoyed his class, but moreso him as a teacher.
  • Overall, course was challenging, yet very effective.  Tests represented material well.  The instructor is very entertaining and stimulating, while still always giving the "take home message" of the course.
  • The course was challenging and caused me to work hard.  I learned a lot from this course.  Professor de Dios was always prepared for class and was willing to help.  He tried to make General Chemistry as relevant as possible.
  • I liked using the online lecture notes with the book.  The exams were the most fair I have even taken at Georgetown.  I am also very impressed with how fair they were graded.  There is very little I would like to see changed.  I think Professor de Dios is one of the best lecturers at Georgetown.  I cannot express how wonderful it was to have the "raw chemistry" with the politics or background to how things were discovered.  I also greatly appreciate his "Jesuitical" approach to teaching and learning.
  • The professor was very involved and always accessible.  He succeeded in helping me to develop an appreciation for a course that I have always disliked and been intimidated by.  That is a big accomplishment.
  • Dr. de Dios' presentation of the material was more invigorating and challenging than reading from the book.  He was able to tie in other aspects from last semester and make them more clear.
  • The course was well-run and very organized.  Dr. de Dios was consistently well-prepared and organized.  He continually established very clear expectations for our work and saw to it that even those of us who do not have a strong science backgrounds has the tools to complete the work and understand the material.  The class was very challenging, but Dr. de Dios was very flexible and accommodating when challenges arose.  I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to have participated in his class.
  • Despite the fact that this is a huge class, Dr. de Dios seemed to know everyone and keep track of how we were doing individually.  This made a hugely positive difference for me.

Teaching is oftentimes a thankless task. But sometimes we do find gratitude. A Happy Christmas and a Joyful New Year to all the readers of the Philippine Basic Education blog.







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