One fact that I suspect becomes apparent to most philosophy instructors fairly early in their careers is the intellectual canyon between the climate of philosophical research and the climate of philosophy teaching. Teaching as I do in a large, moderately selective public university with no graduate program, my teaching obligations almost entirely involve introductory courses (either introduction to philosophy or an introductory practical ethics course), historical surveys, or courses that survey a philosophical subdiscipline (e.g., ethical theory). In these courses, it's rare that the course content intersects with my own research in a very direct or substantial way, and I suspect this is true for most of us: It's the exception when our research and our undergraduate teaching inform one another in profitable ways. Whereas in ethical theory courses, I strive to help students understand Kant's categorical imperative and some of the principal objections to it, my research might concern replies to the objections to the objections, etc. So not only is there relatively little contact between our research and teaching in terms of content, but the level of sophistication in research in much higher than in our teaching.
I imagine that those with graduate teaching duties don't experience this. My concern is not that teaching requires 'dumbing down' the material. (I don't think it does.) My concern is that there is a kind of built-in professional schizophrenia to the profession, where two of the main activities — teaching and research — operate in different worlds, whereas it would be nice if these could be mutually reinforcing activities.
So do others share this experience, and have you changed your approach to teaching (or to research) in response? Are there ways of integrating our own research into our teaching so as to bridge the gap between these two ventures?