The Joy of Teaching

A Practical Guide for New College Instructors

By Peter Filene

Foreword by Ken Bain

176 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 8 figs., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5603-1
    Published: March 2005
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-8763-9
    Published: November 2009

H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Series

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Gathering concepts and techniques borrowed from outstanding college professors, The Joy of Teaching provides helpful guidance for new instructors developing and teaching their first college courses.

Award-winning professor Peter Filene proposes that teaching should not be like a baseball game in which the instructor pitches ideas to students to see whether they hit or strike out. Ideally, he says, teaching should resemble a game of Frisbee in which the teacher invites students to catch ideas and pass them on.

Rather than prescribe any single model for success, Filene lays out the advantages and disadvantages of various pedagogical strategies, inviting new teachers to make choices based on their own personalities, values, and goals. Filene tackles everything from syllabus writing and lecture planning to class discussions, grading, and teacher-student interactions outside the classroom. The book's down-to-earth, accessible style makes it appropriate for new teachers in all fields. Instructors in the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences will all welcome its invaluable tips for successful teaching and learning.

About the Author

Peter Filene is professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he has earned six teaching awards. He is author of several books, including Him/Her/Self: Gender Identities in Modern America, In the Arms of Others: A Cultural History of the Right to Die, and Home and Away, a novel.
For more information about Peter Filene, visit the Author Page.


“A useful exercise in self-reflection for new and seasoned professors alike.”--CBE—Life Sciences Edition

"The Joy of Teaching will prove helpful to new college instructors. Similar to a few self-help books, this book is worth reading every few years to remind us that there are better or different ways to do things."--Education Review

"A useful and succinct guidebook for new college instructors. . . . Filene highlights many wonderful pedagogical philosophies and techniques from which even veteran instructors could benefit."--Teaching Sociology

"In this book, Peter Filene covers the basics. . . . The book is brief . . . but it packs in lots of advice. . . . He addresses nuts-and-bolts questions that more highfalutin books on pedagogy might overlook."--Chronicle of Higher Education

“[The Joy of Teaching] is full of teaching strategies and time-tested tips supported by real-life examples. . . . Filene's sense of joy and passion for teaching and learning is also readily apparent. . . . This book is useful for college faculty, graduate students learning to teach, academic deans, or any campus center devoted to teaching excellence in higher education."--Harvard Educational Review

"A clear, concise, and elegant conversation with the reader about the goals and methods of effective education. Veteran as well as novice teachers will benefit from the examples and suggestions presented in this book."--Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education