A Conservative Professor at Public University

 

My 41st year of teaching began yesterday. Here are my takeaways.

1. I was designed to teach. I love to teach. I was made for teaching.

2. Each class I teach is a charge, a commitment to a body of students. I take that duty seriously.

3. My one-word philosophy of education remains the same: ownership. Students must take possession of what they believe, becoming custodians of their thinking-being-living.

4. Students bear responsibility for their education. The work they put in is what they will get out of any instruction.

5. In a public educational age where some beliefs are mandated, a subscription to prescribed orthodoxies, I believe in heterodoxy: students have freedom of thought and speech, bearing the weight of personal research to solidify ideas from all perspectives without limits on information.

6. The frontal lobe of teenage brains is still forming. So, help in directing ethical boundaries is essential to my professorship. Helping first-year students understand that choice-is-consequence, for instance, is one of many ways I encourage reflective thought when it comes to the categories of right or wrong.

7. Universal life lessons are essential to my teaching since “inquiry” is part of the course title I teach; questioning and investigation will be lifelong pursuits.

8. Students are savvy. Their remarks and concerns are honest and transparent, and I treat those thoughts with great care, encouraging deep thinking, from temporal to eternal matters.

9. I care deeply for students. I enjoy, respect, and give my full attention to all individuals as people bearing God’s image. Based on the biblical concept of the *imago dei* I believe the trust I have been given is a sacred commission.

10. In one of the final questions yesterday, a young woman asked, “Could you give us one principle of wisdom for the semester?” I paused, thankful for such an astute mind, and said, “Take responsibility for your life. Refuse to blame others for your decisions. Accept the ideal that what you do could provide benefits or detriments for your future. The choice is yours.”

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  1. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Highly admirable, and your students are lucky to have you.

    My conclusion is that University as it is currently constituted is a terrible idea, and Public University doubly so.

    • #1
  2. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    At our local community college, someone pasted an index card on the library counter with the advice, “Love many. Trust few. Always paddle your own canoe.” I couldn’t help thinking that it summed up life perfectly. :) 

    • #2
  3. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Bravo, Mark – beautifully stated.

    • #3
  4. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    You didn’t provide the students with your pronouns first?

    Refuse to blame others for your decisions. Didn’t the school make you take a DEI pledge precisely to blame (other) white males for everything?

     

    • #4
  5. Jack Mantle Coolidge
    Jack Mantle
    @JackMantle

    Have you ever met your analog on the other side, specifically, someone who was born to learn?  If so, do you have a lot to talk about or nothing?  Do you ever wish you had a greater propensity to investigate and learn?

    • #5
  6. Mark Eckel Coolidge
    Mark Eckel
    @MarkEckel

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    You didn’t provide the students with your pronouns first?

    Refuse to blame others for your decisions. Didn’t the school make you take a DEI pledge precisely to blame (other) white males for everything?

     

    “No” to both. :)

    I have told my department head that if pronouns or DEI mandates are imposed, they will lose a prof. To accept either for me would be to acquiesce to authoritarian dictates, something I refuse to do. I doubt either will happen (imposition or firing). Universities exist because of associate faculty (read, “adjuncts”) like me. 

    But my work on campus is honored, as are my degrees, publications, and teaching. So, there is mutual respect amongst us even as my worldview is diametrically opposed to theirs.

    • #6
  7. Mark Eckel Coolidge
    Mark Eckel
    @MarkEckel

    Jack Mantle (View Comment):

    Have you ever met your analog on the other side, specifically, someone who was born to learn? If so, do you have a lot to talk about or nothing? Do you ever wish you had a greater propensity to investigate and learn?

    Great questions Jack. Thank you.

    I have a good number of students who would fit that bill. When the opportunity affords itself, yes, we have much to discuss. 

    As far as my own propensity, my brain won’t quit. I am constantly learning. However, I do wish I could access more intellectual brain cells! :) There are so many ideas I would love to pursue but don’t have the time, energy, or ability.

    • #7
  8. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Jack Mantle (View Comment):

    Have you ever met your analog on the other side, specifically, someone who was born to learn? If so, do you have a lot to talk about or nothing? Do you ever wish you had a greater propensity to investigate and learn?

    The person who is born to teach is also a person born to learn. 

    • #8
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