Lessons from the Field: Interview with Seth Roberts

This post is part of the The Teachers Certification Map’s “lessons from the field”, a series of posts featuring passionate, inspiring educators from across the country discussing some of the lessons that they have learned over the years that would help young teachers as they embark on their careers.

Seth Roberts is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at theUniversity of California, Berkeley and Professor of Psychology at Tsinghua University in Beijing.  Seth writes a popular blog where he covers his self-experimentation and his Shangri-La Diet that inspires his personal research and students’ work in and outside of the classroom.

Seth has been teaching and researching for over 25 years, and was drawn towards a career as a professor because it allowed him a lot of freedom in what he did — especially what he could do research about. His original research area was animal learning; more recently he has done research involving self-experimentation about sleep, mood, and weight control.

During our interview with Seth, he shared his advice in helping students reach their goals and maximum potential:

I became a much better teacher when I began to realize how different my students were. They had a wide range of goals and talents. The more I allowed them to go after their individual goals and use their individual talents, the more they learned.The answer to your question, in two words: Student power.

Seth’s advice for those interested in a career in education or new, blooming teachers is “the more you allow your students to learn what they want to learn — which will usually be different from exactly what you want to teach them — the more they will learn. Your job will also become easier.”

Although he doesn’t have a Masters of Education, Seth’s selfless expertise in education has come from pure experience, and especially, experimentation in the classroom.  Similar to Seth’s research, his success as an educator has been based on questioning accepted assumptions.  “What I have learned about teaching goes against the usual idea that everyone in a classroom should learn the same material,” Seth told us.

Do you know someone with great insights to share with young teachers, or do you want to be considered for an interview? If so, please email us at hello@certificationmap.com.

This is a guest post from our journalist Alex J. Mann.  You can subscribe to his blog hereand follow him on Twitter here.

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