Does it matter that your favorite teacher is teaching a course you are only partly interested in? Does it matter that the course you’re looking to study doesn’t have a great teacher?
I think both the teacher and the course matter – but, when in doubt, I’ve learnt to pick the teacher. If there is a skill or subject you absolutely need to learn, unless the teacher is downright horrible, it makes sense that you do it. However, there are very few courses that fall under the absolutely essential category.
Great teachers, on the other hand, transform your point of view on a subject. In teaching a particular subject, great teachers effectively teach the same thing – “how to see.” They teach us how to look at a problem, break it down into something simpler, make sense of the data and apply judgment as we make a decision. They stay great because they approach their subject (and, often, life) as students. In doing so, they teach us how to approach life as eager and curious students.
Most of all, they are great because they obsess about our learning and care more than anyone might think possible. So, when in doubt, I’ve learnt that it makes sense to just gravitate toward incredibly obsessive and caring people whether or not you care about what they’re teaching. Care and growth are guaranteed.