The 7 qualities of an outstanding physics teacher

a tribute to favorite educators on teacher's day.

qualities of excellent physics teacher

Educational rockstar

All the excellent physics teachers are great communicators who draw the attention of their students without fail. Why, because they are witty, humorous and confident when they teach physics. Take Professor Walter Lewin, for example, whose videos have received more than 50 million views on YouTube, collectively.


Real world examples

There are innumerable teachers who merely repeat what's in the textbook and then there are few, who make physics fun and accessible through analogies plucked from daily life.

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Paul G. Hewitt has a unique approach to teaching physics that focuses on the ideas rather than the often daunting mathematics. He has believed that with a strong conceptual foundation, students are better equipped to understand the equations and formulas later.



Passion for it

A good physics teacher has not only deep knowledge about the subject but also desire to pass it on to others. Richard Feynman had once said, "I find that teaching and the students keep life going, and I would never accept any position in which somebody has invented a happy situation for me where I don't have to teach. Never!"

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To this day, Feynman is mostly remembered not because he was a great scientist but because he was an extraordinary teacher who became guide for his students in time of trouble. He used to say, "teach them to doubt, to think, to question, to make mistakes, to learn from their mistakes and most importantly, to have fun in their learning."


Adaptable

All the good physics teachers listen well, focus on collaboration with their students and adapt to new teaching methods. Sal(man) Khan from Khan Academy is an example who's determined to teach by using technology. Also, Professors Walter Lewin and Gilbert Strang from MIT have adjusted well even in old age.

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Gilbert Strang


Approachability

Every good physics teacher is friendly and approachable. Furthermore, he/she is not afraid of doubts, problems and/or feedback from their students. In fact, the good teacher is forever ready to struggle with questions, also taking their students as partners! Walter Lewin, for example, used to accept questions on Quora. Now, he is more available on YouTube and replies to questions in comments. He is 83 years old.


Candle in the dark

In early 1980, H.C. Verma joined the Patna Science College as a lecturer. He found that the students were uninterested in physics because it was too difficult. Also, there weren't any textbooks available in the Indian market which were even remotely relatable.

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Thus, a young Professor Verma set about to solve the problem of his students. Ten years later, in 1992, a new book by the name, 'concepts of physics' was published and it became an instant favorite in India. To this day, the book is being used by many science and engineering aspirants. Professor Verma became and burned like candle, illuminating the darkened lives of incurious physics students.


Self development

A bad physics teacher will often beat around the bush in order to hide the fact that he/she does not know. On the other hand, all the good physics teachers accept that they don't know and/or that they're wrong, and moreover, they want to continue to learn. 

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