Monday, December 11, 2017

Know Your Profs: Chris Ayles marks hard for a reason

October 14, 2015 by Greg Pratt, managing editor

Know Your Profs is an ongoing series of profiles on the instructors at Camosun College.

Do you have an instructor that you want to see interviewed in the paper? Maybe you want to know more about one of your teachers, but you’re too busy, or shy, to ask? Email and we’ll add your instructor to our list of teachers to talk to.

This issue we talked to environmental tech instructor Chris Ayles about his reputation as a picky marker, beard-growing, and the bad habits of dogs.

Camosun’s Chris Ayles (photo provided).

Camosun’s Chris Ayles (photo provided).

1: What do you teach and how long have you been a teacher at Camosun?

I teach geography, mainly within the Environmental Technology program, but also some University Transfer courses. This includes natural hazards, geomorphology, weather and climate, environmental geography, and a bunch of field skills, such as map and compass navigation and stream assessment. I have been here since spring 2002: over 13 years!

2: What do you personally get out of teaching?

I enjoy talking to students about geography! Geographers have a different way of seeing the world: not just as a backdrop for daily life, but as a living, functioning system. It’s very satisfying to help open students’ eyes to that.

3: What’s one thing you wish your students knew about you?

I seem to have a reputation as a picky marker, but it’s not because I’m mean.ĘPart of our job as instructors is to nurture students’ thinking, communication, and professionalism, and being a little tight with the marks stimulates progress there. But life would be easier if I just gave everybody an A.

4: What’s one thing you wish they didn’t know about you?

ET students who have been at field camp with me for a week know I can’t grow a good beard.

5: What’s the best thing that’s happened to you as a teacher here?

One year, the graduating class of ET students invited all their instructors out for dinner, and gave us thank-you cards and gifts (cans of near-beer; it’s an inside joke). It was really touching, and I still get a bit choked up thinking about it.

6: What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you as a teacher here?

I once got ejected at full speed from a motorboat driven by a student. Mostly, the bad stuff around here is just everyday bureaucratic annoyances. The classroom is an amazing cure for that.

7: What do you see in the future of postsecondary education?

Some people think that with the explosion of the internet, easy access to infinite information makes traditional education unnecessary. I’m not so sure, because it takes time, training, and guidance to become an effective independent learner. Also, education keeps getting less affordable, with budget cuts and tuition hikes putting colleges and students under a lot of financial pressure. I hope society and government re-awaken to the value of education.

8: What do you do to relax on the weekends?

Hanging out with my wife and two young boys is number one. I also try to squeeze in some kind of exercise: mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, or hockey, mainly.

9: What’s your favourite meal?

Takeout Indian curry.

10: What’s your biggest pet peeve?

My own tendency to procrastinate. Also dog shit in my front yard.

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