Why I Do It: Becca Babcock

Dr. Becca Babcock (PhD'11) finds inspiration in the stories we use to understand our lives

- June 5, 2023

“Storytelling is where my heart is,” says Dr. Babcock (Nick Pearce photo).
“Storytelling is where my heart is,” says Dr. Babcock (Nick Pearce photo).

HER BACKSTORY: Dr. Babcock describes her career journey as “a bit weird.” She began grad school with dreams of eventually becoming a tenured professor, but partway through her studies she made two discoveries. The first was that she simply wasn’t as in love with research as she originally imagined she would be. The second was that she was in love with teaching. Instructor positions, however, were not easy to obtain. So, while Dr. Babcock took all the part-time teaching contracts she could, she also followed other areas of interest—everything from running a café, to corporate training and instructional design, to working as an actor and producer for film and television. She was always happiest teaching, even as an instructor of science writing, “which is funny, because my background is all English and creative writing,” she says. Now Dr. Babcock is the Assistant Dean, Student Matters in the Faculty of Arts and Social Science and a writing instructor in the Department of English, where she gets to spend nearly all her time with students, either teaching them directly or acting as a “problem untangler” by helping them find solutions to academic challenges.

HIGHLIGHTS: “Storytelling is where my heart is,” says Dr. Babcock. “It’s an organizing principle for a lot of the different ways that we live our lives, including teaching and learning.” She says she tends to think of her classes as stories, as journeys she and her students take together. They may head in different directions at any given point, but at the end they all come together. And clearly the approach works. In 2022, she won the Sessional and Part-time Instructor Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Babcock spends a good deal of time storytelling outside of the classroom as well. She’s written for stage and screen and has produced her own short films. She’s also the author of three books, the most recent of which is Some There Are Fearless, a novel released in April of this year. “We’re all just drawn to stories,” she says.

WHY I DO IT: “I love talking about what I’m passionate about, because I do love writing,” Dr. Babcock says. She’s thrilled when students share that passion and care deeply about writing. But she also enjoys connecting with students who feel insecure about their writing. “I really love working with students who have misgivings about writing and showing them that it’s not this sort of divine talent, but that it’s a skill that you can develop over time,” she says. “It’s about helping them to find ways to become better and to discover what they’re already good at.”

Further reading: Outstanding educators: Get to know this year's university‐wide teaching award winners

This story appeared in the DAL Magazine Spring/Summer 2023 issue. Flip through the rest of the issue using the links below.


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