#SoCaltech: Tal Einav


“Every part of teaching is challenging, and that extends beyond the lecture component. For example, my philosophy about office hours has always been, ironically enough, to be as useless as possible. If a student comes and asks me, ‘How do you do problem number one?’ I ask them, ‘How do you think we should do problem number one?’ And it's absolutely infuriating, but by the end of office hours, they are so thankful that they've struggled through it. My favorite physics author, David Morin, wrote in his recent book, Green-Eyed Dragons and Other Mathematical Monsters, that the one piece of advice he can offer about solving problems is to not look at the solutions too early. Once you see the answer, you can't undo that and come up with it yourself. So, don't be afraid to just sit and get stuck and ponder, because that's when you're really figuring out what to do. That is the learning process.”

Tal Einav graduated on June 14, 2019 with a PhD in physics. During the 2018–2019 academic year, Einav participated in a pilot Teaching Assistant Fellows program (developed by Caltech’s Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach) in which experienced TAs like Einav served as mentors for newer TAs.


#SoCaltech is an occasional series celebrating the diverse individuals who give Caltech its spirit of excellence, ambition, and ingenuity. Know someone we should profile? Send nominations to magazine@caltech.edu.