Thimo Heisenberg

Jan 2020

Lars Thimo Heisenberg is one of the few professors that makes you actually want to come to class and learn. He's an extremely engaging, vibrant, and understanding professor. Much of his class is centered around class discussion, and Thimo is great at providing just enough input for the class to organically discover things about the texts, and somehow can help connect the word vomit that you said into a larger class discussion. It's clear that he really cares about his students and is one of the best teachers out there. In terms of grading, his midterm/final are very fair, with passage IDs that are discussed in class, and his essay grading is not harsh; participation is most emphasized.

May 2019

Take his class if you have a chance!!!! He's great. Lars Thimo Heisenberg is the best instructor I've had at Columbia. Because of him, I had the peak of the possible CC experience. There's a chance I'll end up in as an instructor in academia, and if this ever comes to be, I will model myself after him. Thimo (Prof. Heisenberg) somehow made class discussions flow naturally, and yet kept them informative. My grasp on the texts was always much more solid after class discussion; Thimo would consistently clear things up, seemingly by doing very little, and I understood the fundamental structure, argument, and methods of the texts as a result. At the same time, our class laughed- together- more than any other I've been in at CU. Consider this: I was always overloaded and sleep-deprived this semester and yet always looked forward to my 6-8 PM CC session. (I actually had Columbia-subsidized tickets to a concert during a session a couple weeks ago and resold them when I realized I had few sessions of CC left and didn't want to miss one.) Thimo also somehow perfectly balanced direct explanations and discussion-moderating; we got enough clarification that it cleared up some of our mis-readings and enough discussion to actually think through the texts and analyze them critically. Another thing Thimo did perfectly was nurture diverse opinions in the class and get people to treat them seriously (with respect), and he did this naturally, without invoking rules or authority. In other words, he’d prod us with questions, directing the discussion simply by calling on people, and sometimes he’d say “To summarize...” and then a nuanced summary of developed ideas and how different people disagreed, structured in a way that would clear things up and highlight the strong points and crucial parts of the thoughts. We’ve noticed that Thimo, crucially, really listens to our comments, as if he expects there to be something interesting in what we say, which allows him to challenge the points honestly. The discussion was thus usually beautiful, and we got the most out of both the texts and our fellow classmates’ differing opinions and backgrounds. Thimo's always incredibly prepared. He’d come to class with some background information about the authors and the texts (he told us about Nietzsche’s linguistics background, and the complex history of “Ain’t I a Woman?” as a text, etc.), and then after an analysis of what the passages were doing (their arguments, methods, assumptions, conclusions drawn), he’d bring up some common criticisms of the works to put on the table for the discussion (this also often happened when a student criticized the text). Sometimes passages were unclear, so we'd ask, and Thimo would either clear things up or provide some theories “in the literature” about interpretations, often also telling us his personal opinion. Obviously, Thimo sometimes did not have exact answers, and he was very upfront with this, usually offering to find out what he could. Thimo is also truly invested in our experience in CC and simply as humans. He really wasn’t treating us as just a job (although I’m sure we often tired him out). He’d stay for a long time after the classes talking with us, was available to talk outside of class-time, offered help with papers in office and Skype meetings, organized midterm and final review sessions, etc. My only complaint is that now my expectations are completely ruined, and so I will probably wait for a long time before another instructor manages to meet my new standards. Also, Thimo has genuinely terrible handwriting. (Seriously, it's chicken scrawl.)

Apr 2015

Thimo is an absolute sweetheart. He is very approachable and very human, which I appreciate so much when comparing him to various older, distant professors (though in the class I'm taking right now, [PHIL BC1001], the professor is likewise kind and approachable. He is the reason lecture classes should have TA's– he's very emotionally intuitive and he can spot the people struggling far better than most professors can. On the days where he gives lectures, he is alight with confidence and excitement regarding his topic. He is a joy to learn from and I will miss him next semester.