I've always said yes, although to judge by the effusive thanks sent my way, this isn't a universal reaction on the part of colleagues. Having a visitor can be a little awkward, since the class dynamics are pretty well set by this point in the semester, but hey, I'm not empanelling a grand jury here; it's a public space, and we ought to open it up for something like this. Not everyone feels this way, though; I've known people who've refused to share a syllabus with someone in the department even when the class was a widely taught service class.
So there's always a little drama: will the visitor make everyone shine, or will everyone clam up so that I'm doing my best Ben Stein impersonation? More to the point, will we scare off this person for good or make him or her decide that this is the place of his or her dreams?
I don't know how the visitor felt about it, but the class was great: people making connections, sharing insights, pointing out things in the text and criticism--in other words, talking and learning in an exciting way. It was a good class. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the visitor sharpened us up, but maybe the change did us good. Oh, and if the visitor decides to attend? That's just gravy.
technorati tag: teaching-carnival