Jason Dean draws on his wide range of workplace experience to teach economics as a Professor in Sheridan’s Pilon School of Business. He has worked in many settings, from his first job as a 12-year-old busboy at Mamma Mia’s restaurant in Niagara Falls to melting bauxite at a factory manufacturing abrasives to an office job as a health economist for a consulting firm.
Along the way, he also picked up a BBA in Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University, an MA from the University of Guelph and a PhD at McGill University in his true love: economics.
“My passion for teaching still resonated with me and, after a lengthy search, I was fortunate to cross paths with Sheridan which provided me the opportunity to teach the subject I love. It was a long journey with many obstacles, but a road worth taking,” says Dean who has been a Professor at Sheridan since 2013. “I think it makes me more well-rounded in terms of being able to relate to different types of people, and gives me a lot of examples to pull from in the classroom,” says Dean.
From micro to macroeconomics, advanced statistics and money and banking, Dean is constantly looking to bring real-world approaches into the classroom. “My students are certainly the most interesting part of my job,” he says. “I love meeting new students and facilitating their eagerness to learn. It is a challenge to successfully meet the needs of students with varied learning styles who are non-economic majors.”
Whether he’s discussing labour laws through his own time on a unionized factory floor or using income tax season to open dialogues about taxation, Dean draws on concepts that relate to the personal lives of his students to teach them complex or abstract topics. He also uses new technology such as polling software or interactive games to keep the subjects interesting.
I tell my students to not be afraid of change, and not just settle with their first job.
“Sheridan is willing to be innovative in teaching and the school gives you the support and options to try out different things,” says Dean. “Some university classrooms can have 400 students, but here, it’s a little more personable.” One of the experiments that Dean is using to teach is a flipped classroom, where problems and activities are worked on in class — a method that he finds conducive to student participation. Students receive the content ahead of time, leaving greater opportunities for discussion and practice in the classroom.
In pulling from real life experiences, Dean encourages his classes to think about the bigger picture in economics. “When they see or hear about a macroeconomics issue in the news, such as the Olympics, I want them to really think about the impact and take a step back before judging the outcome,” he says.
As someone whose journey to his dream career took many directions, Dean hopes his students apply this open-minded approach to their own future paths. “I tell them to not be afraid of change, or not just settle with their first job,” he says. “Clearly define your goals and continually seek out new opportunities that will allow you to achieve them.”