Although Robin Williams may not be a teacher at the University of Miami, English Professor Tim Watson earns the “O Captain! My Captain” distinction, according to some students.
“Professor Watson has opened my eyes to the world of post-colonial literature,” sophomore Sam Anzel said. “With every discussion, I found myself thinking about these novels in a different way than I initially did while reading them.”
Watson, who has worked at UM for two years, was born in London and his father was born in Calcutta, India. Watson said he is interested in global views of world power, and he is currently working on a book about the end of the British Empire.
“I like to look how Britain viewed the U.S., which was seen as a place with allies and threats,” Watson said. “It was seen as a place without a culture, even though Britain was saturated with American culture.”
While overseeing students’ senior theses and teaching graduate and undergraduate classes, Watson focuses on give-and-take teaching methods, with 30 percent of the overall grade relying on participation.
“There is a powerful image of the Dead Poets Society type of mentor, but I hope my model of teaching is even more collaborative with my students,” Watson said.
Junior Kristen Francoeur has had Watson for several semesters and said she appreciates the interactive classroom setting.
“I enjoy the class structure being mostly discussion because it forces me to keep engaged with the material, whereas during a mostly lecture class there is more of a possibility of zoning out and not getting as much out of the class.”
The ability to engage students is why Watson became a professor.
“When I was younger, I thought about publishing and journalism, but the academic life is such a good one,” he said. “As a teacher you are always looking for these moments that show this is working,” he added. “You often cannot tell what is working, but when I see students becoming professors that is really cool.”
Although teaching and mentoring is a full-time job,when asked about any extracurricular interests, Watson said while laughing, “I don’t have hobbies anymore. I have a kindergartener.”
Taylor Murphy may be contacted at email@example.com.