Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Post by One of "The Best 300 Professors" in the United States

In April this year, Princeton Review partnered with RateMyProfessor and published a list of "The Best 300 Professors." From approximately 1.8 million post-secondary teachers in the country, NYU Liberal Studies Professor Kathleen (Kathy) Bishop was among the 0.02% included on the list. On RateMyProfessor, students have spoken highly of Professor Bishop:
bishop_2012.jpg"I have come to adore her open minded teaching style and she has always helped her students. She is a MUST."
"Professor Bishop is like the female version of Woody Allen. She's so cool and knows how to engage a class."
"Like everyone always says, super great teacher."
We had the pleasure of speaking with Kathy, but instead of the usual interview, we will let her tell you the story of how she came to become such a passionate educator and an influential member of the NYU community.  

From Professor Kathy Bishop:

When I was recently chosen by the Princeton Review to be included in their new publication, "The Best 300 Professors," it got me to thinking about how this could have happened -- I immediately thought of my mentor and friend, the late Robert R. Raymo, former dean of GSAS and my many times professor and dissertation advisor in the NYU English Department. To excel at anything in life, a young person needs someone to show her how it’s done; for me that meant figuring out how to be a good teacher and scholar. In the end I now realize that what he really provided me with was a roadmap on how to live a happy, fulfilling life. In the beginning, when I first took up the daunting task of teaching, I thought about Prof. Raymo and how he did it so effortlessly and so incredibly well. As with a novice in any field, in my case I thought the best thing would be to model myself after the best teacher I knew. The problem was that he was an older man (or so it seemed to me at the time), who tended towards elegant suits, and I was a young jeans and tee shirt kind of gal. He also had an impossible to duplicate manner that combined utter sophistication and worldliness with razor sharp wit, warmth, kindness, generosity, and all out brilliance. In class students hung on his every word. When you met with him during office hours, he made you feel like you were his only student, and he had all day to discuss the “Miller’s Tale” with you. Just how was I going to match any of this?

What I gradually came to see, through trial and error, was that being good at anything is of course about finding your own way of doing things, but most importantly it’s about finding the reason why you’re here in this life. What I know for sure is that Prof. Raymo loved what he was doing with every fiber of his being, and if you can find that in your own life, well then you are the luckiest person in the world.

In Liberal Studies, where I now teach at NYU, I’ve come to see that probably the most important thing I can pass on to my students is this lesson that I learned years ago through my teacher. In any given class we may be studying an Indian epic, or an Elizabethan drama, or Middle Eastern art. These are all important and beautiful things that will add to these students’ lives immeasurably, but I also hope I am able to pass on to them the lesson that I learned from Prof. Raymo of finding your own individual path. I’m the luckiest person in the world to be standing in front of that classroom, and each one of them is off on their own epic journey to find themselves.

 (Above: Kathy Bishop with Robert Raymo)

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