September 26th, 2013

Teaching Business Anthropology

teaching_anthroAs a practicing anthropologist, I purposely work outside of the academic sphere every day, applying the theoretical frameworks, methods, and tools of anthropology to problems and questions that revolve around how and why people perform tasks online and through technology. Even so, there was no reason why I wouldn’t teach if I were given the opportunity.

A few weeks ago I was asked by my anthropology department if I would like to teach a class this semester. I jumped at the opportunity, I mean, how often do opportunities like this just fall in your lap?

Two weeks ago I began teaching an anthropology class part time. A business anthropology class to be exact. I had been a TA for a handful of classes throughout my time in graduate school (including this course) but I had never actually run a classroom before.

This is quite a different experience.

Luckily, for me, this class has existed for quite a while now and has an established syllabus, reading list, and schedule for the semester.

The first day was rather interesting. Because of Labor Day, the lecture wasn’t held for the discussion sections I lead. We also didn’t have two of the three discussion sections. When Tuesday rolled around, I had to lead a discussion section with nothing to discuss.

Since the lecture portion of the class has begun, and readings have been assigned, there has been plenty to talk about. We’ve covered plenty of topics in class. The most important one, though, has been culture. I spent a fair amount of time finding out how the students understood the concept of culture. We were able to get a good discussion going about what culture was and how we would describe American culture, which is notoriously diverse and difficult to define. We also discussed the difference between culture and stereotypes of cultures.

Between being new to this whole teaching thing and managing to get through the first couple of weeks of classes, I think this semester might not be too bad.

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