John North, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 2003


John North, a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature, has had a long teaching career at the University of Waterloo - over 30 years. Both graduate and undergraduate students have benefited greatly from his devotion to teaching, from his courtesy, generosity and wisdom. Dr. North shares his practical experience with his students “and makes us not only good academics but virtuous citizens like himself.” John North developed two courses offered through Distance Education, namely ENGL 208C (Studies in Children's Literature) and ENGL 202A (The Bible and Literature). He teaches these distance education courses, a total of 5 sections per year, as an additional load to his normal on-campus teaching load. His normal load consists of: ENGL 102A (Short Story and Drama), ENGL 190 (Shakespeare), ENGL 451A (Victorian Poetry and Poetics) and ENGL 451B (Victorian Novel and Prose). In addition, he usually accepts one to three reading-course students each term. Each winter, John gives one 2-hour lecture to a large Arts 300 class, usually on the topic “Romantic Poetry.” For the past two years this lecture has been received by the class of about 75 with a standing ovation. Dr. North is incredibly passionate about the material he teaches and about the teaching of that material. He uses numerous analogies to illustrate the concepts in the texts which results in the student's appreciation of many writers. One student summarized his teaching by saying “He brings to the classroom, not only the wisdom and knowledge required of a professor, but also a personal touch that makes a drastic difference from the student's perspective.” Anecdotes, personal stories, humour, and a love of life are just a few other elements that make Dr. North, not a one-sided academic, but a well-rounded human being to his students. ”He brings himself to our level, he sees himself also as a student in the classroom who learns more and more each day from his students and the material.” Dr. North “showed us not so much how to ask questions of works of literature, but how they ask questions of us. It is our own lives we find dissected, probed, doubted, and spurred on to tackle questions of meaning, purpose and faith when we read literature.”