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Friday, May 10, 2013

Letter from a Student: "A Bumpy Ride"

Lady Writing a Letter by Johannes Vermeer. Source: Wikipedia 
Bette Davis as Margo Channing in "All About Eve."
Her famous line, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night."
Painting by Trevor Heath. Source
I distinctly remember my first day of Mythology and Folklore. As an English major with a writing concentration, this was my first time walking into the intimidating Science Hall East with its tall grey walls, automatic doors, and clean-cut, contemporary design. It was nothing like the rustic Raubinger Hall and mildew-scented Hunziker wing that I was so accustomed to. The only common denominator between these buildings was a plethora of smokers huddled under the awning in order to keep dry. As I ventured into room 5041, I noticed the previous professor had left a lecture on the going influenza epidemic that was sweeping the nation.

When Doctor Danusha Goska walked in, the entire class was in for a surprise. The wispy thin, white marking on the green and black chalkboards were revealed to be hers. She set her enormous backpack and curiously strange walking stick in a corner of the room and without a pause continued into a discussion of how it was the students' responsibility not to become ill: how to wash our hands, cover our mouths when coughing and keeping a distance from those who are or may seem infected. As my eyes crawled along the faces of my peers, Doctor Goska's voice was still murmuring in the background and I knew we were all thinking the same thing. "This course is going to be a bumpy ride."

However, four months into the semester, I have no reservations in saying that our lives have completely changed because of this class. I become excited when seeing my classmate William because he is a fellow English major, Chiyomi, in order to discuss the difference in our cultures, allow Christopher to vent about his girlfriend and future deployment, or Nikki and her precious new niece. It is because of Doctor Goska that we have gained confidence in ourselves and trust in each other.

After introducing us to absolutely repulsive creation myths, fairy tales ranging from Cinderella to talking snakes in India and the issues occurring in modern times, she has filled us with not only a vast amount of knowledge, but the ability to dissect materials presented and fully understand them. Due to her eccentrically charged personality, we were given an unforgettable experience. She spent some time regarding proper research methods, and together we can locate the appropriate sources for my project and distinguish them from false sources. I have learned so much in her class I was completely unaware of. My communication, debate, and analytical skills have increased. I am delighted to recommend this class to all students. Together, Dr. Goska and I can create something magnificent that we will both be proud of.


Letter from a student to my boss, quoted with permission.

What delights me most about this letter is my student's great skill at writing. What pleases me second is that she reports that I taught her how to do research and how to assess material for its truth value. She wrote to report that these skills with help her with her own research.

I am so happy that I left this student with these feelings. That’s what I want to do most as a teacher. Teach my students not WHAT to think, but HOW to think.

Yay. Yay. :-)

Finally, I'm really pleased that my student felt that our class was a place where she could connect with fellow students. The professor isn't all that important. What is important, what will serve students for the rest of their lives, are their human connections, and their people skills. I encourage students to connect, not only with me, but with each other. 

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