Know your audience

Dr James McKinnon, who this year won a prestigious Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award, draws his teaching philosophy from an unlikely source.

Dr James McKinnon
Dr James McKinnon

“I’ve always enjoyed the part of teaching that’s about getting to know people. My approach is teach the person, not the subject—to paraphrase the Canadian physician William Osler who famously said ‘treat the patient, not the disease’.”

James, who also hails from Canada, is a senior lecturer in Victoria’s Theatre programme. He has been at Victoria since 2010 and has taught theatre for more than 15 years.

James says he was honoured to receive the award, one of 12 Sustained Excellence awards presented by Rt Hon. Bill English at a ceremony at Parliament.

He says he’s grateful for the opportunities that have opened up to him since starting at Victoria. “When I arrived here, the Faculty invested a lot of resources in making professional development opportunities available to me. To me it’s a sign that Victoria is a university that’s interested in helping its people grow.”