In this section, Professor Ketterle shares why he enjoys teaching graduate students.
Every single time I’ve taught this sequence of subjects, I’ve enjoyed it. This is because I’ve been able to get to know my students, and the students are genuinely excited to learn the material. They come to MIT to do cutting-edge research, and I’m teaching them the concepts they need to understand what is currently going on in research.
I enjoy the challenges teaching graduate students entails. Sometimes, for example, I’ve found myself wanting to teach a new topic—and then realizing that I don’t fully understand something in the original research. In these moments, I’ve felt challenged to understand the material in a way that will be deep enough to allow me explain it in the classroom and to address questions students might have about the material. In a graduate course, you can’t just repeat what the authors of a paper say. You really need to explain it in the language of the course and to present it from different perspectives. That’s not easy.