Last night I had my first class on James Joyce. There were a lot of mixed thoughts going into the class, namely a massive amount of fear about the coursework. I was hoping (desperately) that the professor was going to look at Finnegan's Wake out of pure curiosity. Then I received the syllabus and nearly had a myocardial infarction.
Sorry... I nearly had a FUCKING HEART ATTACK.
Which is to say that the professor assigned one Joyce book a week plus supplementary reading and lots of writing. He had no bones about the fact that the course was going to be tough. It was a tough syllabus and I was ready to flee with mad rants about how some professors don't get students.
That's when the professor began speaking about Joyce. I once again learned a valuable lesson about teaching from a professor at Trinity. He spoke so genuinely, and with an honest fervor for the subject matter, that I was instantly drawn in. I liked this guy, and I realized no amount of work would keep me out of his class.
The lesson, I suppose, is that energy and passion can make all the difference in education. A student is not motivated by the course material alone. It's mainly about the commitment of the teacher.