Turing Award Winner Became Our Teacher
On August 31th, the third day of the new term, students in ACM2015 class of the School of Computer Science and Technology met a big surprise: Professor John Hopcroft would teach them discrete mathematics in English. They stared at the teacher and listened to him carefully.
The winner of the Turing Award in 1986 and the John Von Neumann Award in 2010, the IBM professor of Engineering Applied Mathematics in Department of Computer Science of Cornell University, the academician of AAS (American Academy of Science), NAE (National Academy of Engineering) and American Academy of Arts and Sciences), the Fellow of AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science, IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) and Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics…Such a long series of honors and titles all showed that John Hopcroft was an outstanding computer scientist. Coming cross him could make students feel lucky enough, let alone being taught by him.
Being quite different from the contemporary common teaching pattern, John Hopcroft never uses PPT, instead, he keeps writing on the blackboard. Filling the blackboard with handwriting formulas and then erasing it, he repeated it once and once again, combining the knowledge with latest situation of the industry, and conveyed them to students clearly and concisely. The sagacious old professor in his seventies already has hoary hair, but he was hale and hearty.
Although autumn was coming, after 90-minute-teaching, the old professor’s shirt was soaked by sweat. However, he kept standing without drinking water. He Kun, another professor in School of Computer Science and technology who sat in the classroom had to remind him of the class break every time.
No students check their cell phones in Professor John’s class since they cherish every minute spending with him. They all concentrate on listening and taking notes. “The content of his class was usually abundant.” Qin Ruyu, a student in that class said, “He never repeats what the book says, instead, he pays attention to divergent thinking. So, the class was more interesting than before and I could learn more.” She was happy about the different experience brought by the different style. “It is interesting. Also, I think it doesn’t matter that he teaches in English since we can all understand him.”
“Professor Hopcroft was experienced in teaching and was prestigious in the industry. The students were lucky to take his classes and we had many things to learn from him.” Another teacher of discrete mathematics, Deputy Professor Hua Qiangsheng took that class with students together and he said he had benefited a lot. “He tends to let students think independently and arouse their learning interests. Then, students need to spend more time and energy on it after class.”
Students will have that class twice a week for four weeks, so that they still have enough time to explore the world of discrete mathematics with Professor Hopcroft together. “See you next week!” When the class was over, he winked with a smile. It is sure that next week, he will still prepare many questions for the students to think.
Leaving the classroom doesn’t mean that the class comes to an end, to reach the target of the class; they still have a long way to go. For undergraduates in China, the opportunity of being taught by world-class scientist was quite precious. To make full use of it, they need to preview and review the lessons carefully; maybe, they will also have a pile of relevant thesis to read.
Huang Junjun and his Puzzle to Japanese Teaching
Is the target for Japanese lessons only to teach students speak in Japanese? How to twist the language teaching with history, politics, culture and even social philosophy?
Huang Junjun is a young teacher in Japanese major who had just begin his teaching career this year. After taking two classes, he started to think a question: “Is our ultimate target teaching students speaking Japanese?” She collected the question from and brought it to the first seminar about preparing for classes on the afternoon of September 5th .She hoped to collect other teachers’ opinions.
In the seminar, Chen Ling who was in charge of “The Politics and Diplomacy in Japan”, said that according to her introduction, she usually widens the students’ horizons by current affairs. Also, the assignments in her class are abundant, including topic designing, discussing in groups and making reports. “The teacher must be a good guider, to help the students confirm their standpoints and analyze historical events from different perspectives.
Zeng Cheng had just come back from the Japanese center of Japan Foundation, having too many feelings and opinions to share. He suggested some breakthroughs in the teaching of The Traditional Aesthetics and Art in Japan. “Can we make language learning a natural process while completing the teaching plans?” Zeng Cheng asked. In his eye, Japanese culture is filled with treasures such as Zen, tea ceremony and Ukiyoe, etc. He urged to teach the students how to explore them.
“In the evening, a guard was taking shelter of the rain under the Rashomon (referred to the city gate). There was no one except him. But there was a cricket, crouching on a big column, with peeling red paint on it…” In Wang Jinghua’s class, a cricket appeared in the beginning of the novel Rashomon could lead you to a imagining world. She did hope that she could be a leader, helping students start conversations with the authors and characters in their works, then, they could enjoy literature.
Deputy Professor Wang Runmei was the teacher of Japanese History, she used Long Yingtai, a famous writer in Taiwan’s metaphor, to describe history is the blossoming of a rose in desert. “Although you can’t see results at a glance while learning history, but its most charming part is actually the slow blooming process.” Wang Runmei advocates cultivating students’ right understanding of history and world view. In her opinion, young students have the responsibility to know Japan’s past and understand its present situation. “Meanwhile, they should think more about the developing trend of Sino-Japanese relations and the developing patterns of both two countries, then, they will have new understandings about the peace and development in East Asia.
Deputy Professor Lu Huiling suggested that they can use bilingual textbooks according to different terms and students’ different learning levels, and then the students will find independent learning more convenient. Professor Wang Qiuhua advised the teachers to recommend relevant books to students in accordance with different learning periods to widen their horizons. “As for the freshmen who know little about Japanese, we could recommend books written in Chinese. Never let the frustrating language learning deprives the students of their interests.” Her words were enlightening for other teachers: “Language is just a tool; it’s a part of culture, and we need to include cultural improvements in our curriculums. The target of teaching reform is to transform language from a tool into a researching object, to reach a higher level. Also, we should make Japanese culture and social consciousness into our researching objects.
Although he may never get the standard answer of his question, Huang Junjun has already got many new inspirations. He kept discussing with his colleagues while waiting for the elevator to leave. In the future, such discussions may happen many times, and become a necessity of his teaching career.
In recent years husters feel quite proud of the classes they have taken since they were taught by a series of super stars: the winner of Turing Award, academicians, young Young Overseas High-level Talents Introduction Plan scholars, Chang Jiang Scholars…The young students live in brilliant brain storms every day.These are part of the HUST Teaching Reform project, which aiming to improve the quality and efficiency of class-teaching for students of all levels.