Learning opportunities outside the classroom


My father, also Rob McTavish, was a charter student here at Simon Fraser University. He completed a bachelor of general studies and his Professional Development Program here at SFU, and was a career teacher in a local elementary school. School was always an unpleasant experience for me, however, I had a passion for learning that my parents fully supported outside of school. I was always so proud when my father would have former students come up to say that he was their favourite teacher and how much they had enjoyed being his student. To this day he still runs into students who remember him fondly. 

I had no intention of following my father’s footsteps in education until I began to teach in the military and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the positive changes I was able to make in individuals’ lives.

The McTavish family at SFU's 50th Anniversary Celebration

I began working at Simon Fraser University and saw that to move forward I needed to further my education. I was introduced to Phil Winne, who was kind enough to mentor me into the MA program. He spent countless hours with me outside of the classroom over the next 15 years as I obtained my MA and PhD. I was fortunate to see so many faculty members who were expert at teaching during my graduate studies. Seeing the manner in which they were able to convey complex topics made me aspire towards excellence.

I specifically recall classes on multivariate statistics with Phil Winne where he was able to provide explanations from multiple perspectives. Seeing his expertise and that ability to enable each of us not only to grasp the solution but understand how it was obtained amazed me. It was like each student was looking at a diamond from multiple perspectives, but each seeing the same solution. It was and is something that I aspire towards. 

I am fortunate to be able to put my doctorate to use every single day working here as a program director at SFU. Now, as a father of three young children, I again see the value my father put in providing educational learning opportunities in so many other aspects of my life that are outside the classroom.

Rob McTavish
BA 1997, MA 2002, PhD 2010

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