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Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Teaching

Including ✦ PhilosophyCoursesMentoringFor StudentsStudent Work

School-Icon-2013-01_0200pxMany people believe in the 10,000 hour rule, which suggests that in order to become good at something one must spend at least 10,000 hours practicing that craft. I am not sure if I buy this rule — I have the sense both that it is possible to gain mastery in under 10,000 hours and that even 10,000 hours of practice does not guarantee mastery for any and all practitioners — but it is an interesting benchmark to consider. There is probably only one life skill that I have definitely practiced for over 10,000 hours, and that is teaching. I began teaching informally before leaving college, working as both a laboratory teaching assistant and camp counselor. My real education in teaching began when I was only 22 years old and joined the Teach for America program to work as a middle school science teacher. Our society tends to belittle and undervalue public school teaching, paradoxically suggesting that it is very poorly done and very easy to do. But for me, middle school science teaching was a crucible: when you are faced with delivering understanding to twenty-five seventh- or eighth-graders at a time for more than five hours a day over the course of eight years, you either learn to teach well or you suffer. After a few years, I did a lot less suffering and a lot more teaching, and I emerged from my public school teaching experience with all the fundamental teaching skills I employ today.

My decision to move from secondary school teaching to higher education was primarily driven by the desire to give myself more creative freedom: the teaching experience is not fundamentally different in higher education, but the realm of what I can teach is dramatically broader. I also appreciate that teaching practice in higher education is intertwined with a research practice: as a professor, I am rewarded for both teaching and scholarship, and I like to make strong connections between these two pursuits. I have really thrived as a professor at Pratt Institute, creating eight novel courses and developing (in collaboration with Pratt graduate students) a number of teaching tools that I use every semester in my courses. My research interests in the areas of concept mapping, educational technology, and information design exert a strong influence on how I teach.

On this site I have tried to provide a comprehensive overview of my teaching. You can learn about my Teaching Philosophy and look at a list of the Courses I offer, each of which is described in detail so that prospective students can decide which (if any) of my courses is right for them. A summary of my past Course Evaluations provides an additional means of decided whether to take a particular course from me. I also describe the student Mentoring I have provided and show exemplary Student Work completed in many of my courses. There is a page exclusively designed For Students that provides guidance and resource links for my past, present, and prospective future students. Please check out my teaching, which I consider foundational to my role as a professor.