The five master teachers for 1997-99 share their teaching philosophies

#3 The Enthusiasm of Teaching


Charles Urbanowicz
Teaching is work but teaching is fun. Someone once asked in a class, "How would you like to be remembered after your death?" My response was, "He made a positive difference."

As a teaching cultural anthropologist, my role is to encourage individuals to discover cultural differences in the world and make the connections that enable them to understand and appreciate the similarities in diversity. In addition, I believe a teacher should encourage the joy of learning.

While teaching can be a singular experience, I do not think teaching means that one works alone: one incorporates ideas of other people through words, readings, videos, and now, the Internet. Every multimedia item in a class may be considered a "guest-lecturer" that needs to be critically evaluated.

If teaching is fun, learning should be fun, and I attempt to weave my enthusiasm and joy of teaching with the joy of learning and the joy of life. Teaching is my profession of choice. I encourage students to appreciate the delights of learning something new every single day and connecting that information with something already known! I bring a controlled passion and commitment for bringing current information into each class (from newspapers, journal articles, or the Internet) every day!

On the first day of class I ask students to provide me with their birth year and any traveling they have done. Relative to the instructor, students are getting "younger," yet they often have more cross-cultural experiences than I had at their age. I weave this information into lectures whenever possible, incorporating their experiences into the course content.

We should realize that students, just as we, have lives outside the classroom, and we interact with them for a brief time any semester. My goal is to encourage individuals to want to learn and see the world around them with a new perspective during the hours we aren't together. I strive for efficiency in teaching, trying to maximize information and interaction while meeting course objectives. I follow the words of Carl Sandburg (1878-1967): "Time is the coin of our lives. We must take care how we spend it."

I was pleased to be made an Honorary Member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society in 1994, especially because I flunked out of a university in 1961 and then entered the United States Air Force for four years. With Lance Hauer, I currently advise the PES campus chapter and enjoy interacting with bright-eyed freshmen and re-entry students: it is easy to identify since I have been both!

Teaching is work because it involves preparation and planning but teaching is also fun. Teaching is not dull since changing students, a changing world, and a changing philosophy keep it exciting. I hope my students have made their own contributions to the appreciation of basic cultural diversity everywhere and have made a positive difference. That is the positive difference I wish to have made.

Charles Urbanowicz


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