Saturday, February 24, 2018

Know Your Profs: Camosun’s Chris Avis on post-secondary for work or for pleasure

November 16, 2016 by Adam Boyle, staff writer

Know Your Profs is an ongoing series of profiles on the instructors at Camosun College. Every issue we ask a different instructor at Camosun the same 10 questions to get to know them better.

If you have an instructor you’d like to see interviewed in the paper, but perhaps you’re too busy to ask them yourself, email and we’ll add them to our list of teachers to talk to.

This issue, we chatted with Camosun physics prof Chris Avis about mental health, his fashion sense, and post-secondary education leading directly into the workplace.


Camosun physics professor Chris Avis says he has weird taste in music (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

1. What do you teach and how long have you been at Camosun?

Physics; six years.

2. What do you personally get out of teaching?

I love that I have a job that makes use of my interest and my education. I tend to naturally be a bit introverted, and teaching’s been a great means of personal growth for me—it’s made me more confident and a better public speaker. I also really enjoy engaging with students and watching light-bulb moments occur when they start to grasp challenging concepts.

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

I’m a big advocate for mental health. There’s far too much of a stigma around it in society and it stops people from seeking help and coping strategies that would really improve their lives. I’ve struggled with stress and anxiety and had to work very hard during my education, so I can really empathize with what students are going through with their academic workload. I’m a Camosun Healthy Minds ambassador and I want students to know that I’m there to listen if they want someone sympathetic to talk with.

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

My fashion sense is, um, questionable at best.

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

Becoming a continuing faculty member. I love teaching at the college, but it was tough as a sessional employee coping with the employment uncertainty.

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

I can’t think of any one specific thing, but I’d say it can be really hard to not take work home with you, both literally—marking—and emotionally. It’s hard to watch students struggling with courses or with difficulties in their lives and not empathize with them.

7. What do you see in the future of post-secondary education?

I think there’ll be more of an enrolment shift toward degrees and diplomas that lead more directly into the workforce. These days students often have to make pretty major financial sacrifices to pursue an education, and more are wanting to make sure it’s worth their while at the end of it. That’s totally understandable, but at the same time, it’s a bit sad that it seems that there are fewer and fewer students out there taking courses just out of interest and getting an education without a thought to where it might necessarily lead.

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

I run, hike, and cycle for exercise. I enjoy reading, photography, cooking, and listening to film music—yes, weird taste in music, I know.

9. What is your favourite meal?

I do most of the cooking at home, so anything that someone else prepares is great. If I had to choose, anything Mexican is awesome.

10. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Cellphones and social media. We’re more connected than ever, but it seems like these technologies make conversations ever more shallow and vapid. I feel that they’re degrading our ability to genuinely communicate one-on-one in a meaningful way.

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