Over the years I have taught a variety of courses in the social sciences and humanities in Australia, Britain, and Finland. I have lectured in four quite different courses, Youth Culture and Consumption (University of the West of England), Contemporary Social Research (Deakin University), Spirituality and Secularization in the West (University of Helsinki), and Music, Sound and Society (University of Helsinki).
In the past I have also guest lectured on research ethics in a course on ethnographic methods at the University of Helsinki, and facilitated tutorials and seminars in a variety of subjects in the social sciences at Monash University, the University of Bristol, and the University of Helsinki. In addition, I worked on a voluntary basis as a tutor to secondary students from a refugee background in Melbourne between 2005 and 2008.
As a teacher, clarity is very important to me. Many of my students have spoken English as their second (or third, or fourth) language, and often my classrooms have included students from different class backgrounds, with different expectations, and with different ambitions and motivations. I feel that it is important for me to make clear to my students what they should be able to comprehend at the end of a course and at the end of a class. It’s then our joint responsibility to make sure that each student reaches that level of comprehension. So I am always looking for new ways and new methods to clearly explain the concepts that we work with in the social sciences, to understand the case studies that we investigate, and to appreciate the relevant changes that have taken place in society and in scholarship over the years.
In the past I have sometimes found that fiction offers the clearest examples of complex social phenomena, so I have made use of the work of authors Raymond Carver, Richard Ford and Michael Muhammad Knight in lectures, as well as the comedy series Rev., and – of course – The Simpsons. I am fond of guided group discussions, of diagnostic assessments such as short quizzes and reflection papers, and I am a cautiously enthusiastic advocate of blended (online/”offline”) learning.
I am in the process of developing a methodology-focused short course to be offered to honours and graduate research students in the humanities and social sciences at the Australian National University.