When thinking about this leave-taking, fleetingly, I envisioned a catalog of reflections on recent achievements at the college, experiences that are unforgettable, people who are incomparable, wishes for the future, and regrets.
Among achievements at CFCC, I marvel at the change in mood and environment in the last four years. Even though we may disagree on topics and procedures, we agree to disagree in a peaceful climate far different from the tumultuous era before this one. Many more people engage in earnest dialog about our profession, about the successes of students, the challenges involved, the enjoyment of collegiality. To paraphrase a political refrain, if you asked people are they more valued, more trusted, more free to pursue their professional responsibilities than they were four years ago, I think the majority would say yes.
I’m proud of our little corner of all this,
the Teaching/Learning Center and its parent, the Teaching/Learning Institute
which provides support to faculty with its services. The visionary members
of the TL Steering Committee conceived of a facility that would offer a
place for faculty to gather for professional development, instructional
tech. assistance, and fellowship. That dream has become reality in the
TLC. I have been fortunate to work in this “feel-good” haven and blessed
with positive responses from faculty and staff. TLI funding for conferences,
tuition, mini-grants, along with other professional growth activities,
has benefited nearly every full-time faculty member and many adjuncts—another
success for which I am grateful.
Incomparable people and events are part of the good memories as well as the regrets. Where else can one encounter stimulating intellect and the clever humor of colleagues in the course of each day? Where else can we see the face of the future brighten with understanding before our eyes? In what other profession could one have the same sense of touching lives, of making a difference? Nothing can replace these experiences.
Among the memorable vignettes: Tom Weaver with his duct tape and WD-40 (I don’t remember what they symbolized, but I’ll never forget Tom or the symbols); Jerry Seibel speaking passionately about statistics and evaluation—that a system will never be perfect, but that we can make it work; Robin Seymour working a roomful of strangers with amazing charm and delight; Debra Vazquez renewing the world for us with her poetry; David Hartley with his funny daily woes; Ron Cooper’s fuzzy haircut and bright outlook; Chuck Hiatt’s great ties and shiny head; Jan Livingston’s cheery smile; Larry Sutton’s frown; Sandy Pell’s puns; Jim Dial’s help (accompanied by the phrase, “it’s not my job”); Dave Lanzilla’s urgency; Susan Bradshaw’s smarts and books and music shared; Kathy Daghita’s devout liberalism; Jack Thursby’s devotion to students (even to advising!) and the talent he shares with us; Bonnie’s enthusiasm and fair mindedness; Glenn Heflin’s steady common sense; chats with Joe Z.; Ed Niespodziany’s Nike forehead and his “Evolve” license tag; Steve MacKenzie’s waters; the spirited disputes of the Communications department; the good-natured disdain of Humanities/Social Sciences; the linear logic of Science colleagues; the necessary humor of our mathematicians; the dedication of our displaced nurses and our Personal Services staff; the amazing togetherness of Business, Technology and Workforce; the valiant efforts of the Citrus Campus, which really is the best-kept secret of this college; the demise of the Patriot Chicken; Frank Rasbury’s motorcycle; Cash’s dreams; Don Hunt’s muscles; Charles Hayes’s memos; Sharon Cooper and the turnip truck; the improvisational wit and gentle guidance of our servant president; and the entire family of this institution, dedicated to a journey they travel so expertly.
All these are treasures that I cherish and will miss and for which I thank you.
by Lynne Boele, Teaching/Learning Institute
The following two interesting selections for summer reading elicit reflection and response:
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier is a wonderful re-creation of the world of Vermeer, the Dutch artist. This novel brings to life his canvases and style, a style that the author emulates with her precise and lucid prose. Truly an excellent read for anyone who enjoys art and a good story.
The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing is one of her early South African works—very stark and troubled, but gripping in the surgical revelation of a soul. Not light-hearted, certainly, but excellent to sandwich in between the self-indulgent reading selections.
From Tom Weaver: “I recently read Jimmy Carter's latest book, An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood, and thoroughly enjoyed it! Born October 1, 1924, Jimmy Carter grew up on a Georgia farm during the Great Depression. With his great storytelling skills he recounts his rural boyhood, painting a sensitive portrait of the United States before the civil rights movement. He vividly explores and celebrates his family life, his wonderful black sharecropper friendships, and the trials and tribulations of being poor in the south during those years. It's remarkable that such a relatively simple man could not only become Georgia's governor but also our country's president. The book—although a memoir—presents interesting insights into rural southern culture and its economical, political and sociological roots. I highly recommend it!”
Books to consider from Pat Fleming:
Marcia Drago recommends Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley (Harper Collins, 1999). “I found this book at Barnes & Nobles. Although it is explaining the mapping of the human genome, Ridley does so very entertainingly by picking one newly discovered gene from each pair of chromosomes and telling its story. This is a cool book!”
Debra Vazquez offers these selections:
Reading Rilke by Wm. Glass: “About Ranier Maria Rilke (whom many consider to be the greatest 20th century poet), this book has to be the most beautifully written and poetic piece of non-fiction I’ve read in years.”
These books come highly recommended by Michele
Wirt: Arthur I. Miller’s Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and the Beauty
that Creates Havoc. “It suggests that the artist and the scientist
were concerned with the same ideas.”
Finally, a moving selection from children’s lit that John Weil would like to share: “I have two children’s books I could recommend, both by Taro Gomi. Everyone Poops, and its companion book, The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts. Score one for children’s lit!”
The hearing ear is always found close to the speaking tongue. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
My colleagues in my division tend to support lecturing as the primary means of exchange between professor and student. Irvin Brown argues that perhaps we have the duty, not only to hone our students’ abilities to communicate well, but also to foster in them appreciation of the beauty of the spoken word. Moreover there’s so much that we do with our voices that nothing can replace, Irvin says, “the experience of the effectiveness of a word fitly spoken.” John Mathews insists that the less we rely on lecturing, the more we help to shorten the attention span of the MTV generation, about which we are so apt to complain. Unless we engage them through lectures, will they become the sorts of citizens who can follow a state of the union address, sit through a sermon, or make sense of their CEO’s end-of-the-quarter summary? John points to the great oral traditions of Western civilization as inspiration, from classical Greek teachers like Socrates and Aristotle, to Roman orators like Cicero and Seneca, to the Christian homiletic tradition of the Middle Ages, and to the statesmen of early American politics.
2. Narrative as Fundamental Structure
Heidegger’s work has been enormously influential in the field of hermeneutics, the study of interpretation. Thinkers in this field contend that understanding is interpretation, not in the popular sense of “subjective” but in the sense of giving form to. It is further claimed that to interpret is to place into a narrative. It should not be difficult to see a kinship between the manner in which we, as Heidegger says, “project” ourselves into our future and how a fictional plot pulls the reader towards its conclusion. To make a very long story short, ultimately you get something like this: narrative is a temporal structure that makes possible our way of being. To tell a story, to read a novel, to make sense of a historical event, to relay information, and to make plans for the future are all, at the most fundamental level, the same movement.(1)
I maintain that lecture is a form of narrative—which is to interpret, which is to give form, which is to understand--and thereby is central to college teaching.
3. Types of Narrative
B. The next type is the mytho-poetic model (something like geschichte in German). This one is our common notion of a story: “Once upon a time. . . .” There is some overlap with the syntactic-causal model, for the relations among the elements of a plot are often cause/effect. However, stories of human events differ from stories of natural events in that we often seek explanations of the former in terms of agency and deliberations. We expect very different sorts of answer from “Why did Alexander invade the Middle East?” and “Why did so many marsupials evolve in Australia?” The mytho-poetic model is especially useful in a lecture concerning historical and literary knowledge that involve issues of cultural identity, nationalism, and symbolic understanding. A strength of this approach is that an emphasis on the mimetic operation of storytelling forces the student to think in terms of universal human themes: What does it mean to be a human being? Is war inevitable? Why do fools fall in love? And perhaps most importantly, where do I fit in? This strength is also, of course, the drawback of this model, for students have to see the big picture to appreciate the deeper lessons of the story. We want our students to remember the series of events and central figures that make up the French Revolution, but moreover we want them to use this story as a mirror reflecting something about themselves. Perhaps a helpful strategy is to compare to these stories to fables or parables in which the students know that literal truth is not the point.
C. The hypothetico-deductive model is especially appropriate to problem solving and scientific investigation. You define problem, propose a solution (hypothesis), seek weaknesses in that hypothesis, eliminate alternatives, propose another solution, etc. Now, you might think it odd to call this a narrative model.(2) However, the melodic structure of this manner of understanding is indeed quite like that of a story but with the difference that the temporal connections of protension are replaced by protended inference. As a reader of a novel is pulled from the imagined past of the plot into the anticipated future fulfillment of events, the problem solver abducts from initial observations “forward” towards a solution. A strength of this model is that it can be easy to outline, that is, in some examples the steps are fairly straightforward. Also, it encourages critical thinking in proposing solutions and eliminating rival treatments. The other side of this coin, however, is that it demands creativity. Solving problems and testing hypotheses require as many imaginative scenarios as they do formulas that are simply plugged in. An effective strategy is to recreate for students your own struggle with the problem.
D. The hermeneutic narrative is our ordinary notion of interpretation: What does this mean? Its most common application, of course, is with textual analysis. It is important to remember that “text” refers not just to written texts, but paintings, films, artifacts, or historical periods are texts to be “read.”(3) The hermeneutic lecture naturally demands adopting various perspectives, considering alternative interpretations, weighing probability, and making selections based on an interpretation’s fit with our wider weltanschauung. As professors of literature know all too well, however, the overuse of the term “interpretation” encourages the view that any interpretation is mere opinion as opposed to truth. Those who hold such a simple-minded view are unacquainted with what scientists, for example, actually do. Observing a chemical reaction and drawing conclusions about the behaviors of the substances in question is no less an interpretive activity, at the most fundamental epistemological level, than reading a poem. This does not mean, however, that scientists just make it up as they go along or that they are not certain of their findings. The hermeneutic model may best encourage our students to accept complexity and not hide behind a simplistic objective (this is a fact, so nothing to discuss)-subjective (this is my opinion and I have a right to it, so nothing to discuss) cleavage.
4. Before class
5. In class:
Christian scripture calls the word (logos) God. While I won’t go that far, I will agree with Thomas Mann that “Speech is civilization itself.” I am convinced that there is a profound connection among the ultimate nature of human experience, understanding, narrative, and speaking. It is for that reason that lecturing has been indispensable to higher education for 2,500 years. On the other hand, we should make sure not to exemplify Ambrose Bierce’s definition of the lecturer: “One with his hand in your pocket, his tongue in your ear and his faith in your patience.”
(1)The leading voice in hermeneutics is Hans-George Gadamer (who just turned 100), whose magnum opus is Truth and Method (1960), a book that has left a mark on all the human and some of the natural sciences. The connection between hermeneutics and narrative has been best explored perhaps by Paul Ricouer’s three-volume work Time and Narrative (1983). The role of narrative in historiography has been a lively topic especially since the mid-1960s and particularly in response to Morton White’s Foundations of Historical Knowledge, W. B. Gallie’s Philosophy and Historical Understanding, and Arthur Danto’s Analytical Philosophy and History. Other historians and philosophers of history (such as Leon Goldstein and Maurice Mandelbaum) have attacked the “narrativists” as favoring literary presentation over painstaking inquiry and discovery.
(2)There is an enormous amount of work in the philosophy of science concerning just what the scientific method is. Francis Bacon’s classic model, while still parroted in high school science classes, has long been considered too simplistic. A couple of watershed works in this area are Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery and Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
(3)French structuralist literary theory, best represented by Roland Barthes, has made significant contributions to discussions of narrative and has been enormously influential in recent art theory.
Hello Lynne. Thanks for doing this.
Thanks for asking.
Let’s talk about teaching. Tell us something new that you’re doing in your classroom.
Well, in the last couple of years I’ve done some things with cooperative learning. I really wanted to perfect the group work idea—and we’ve talked about this before—how do you work it so that there’s not that one student carrying the load for everybody else. How do you make them share in the responsibility, and really make learning happen. I do believe that the best learning is by doing. There’s that pyramid of retention...
The “Learning Pyramid” put out by the National Training Laboratories in Maine.
Right. Where it tells you that you only have a 10% chance of retaining something if you heard it in a lecture. And then you go up the pyramid to the 90% stage—that’s when you teach somebody else. So if you can structure your groups so that they have mastered something, some part of what’s important, and then teach it to the other people, then they really have learned
That sounds great in theory but lots of students don’t like working in small groups. How do you make it work?
You really have to structure it. I try to make each student has something relevant to do. I divide the work so that one person is the only person that has that part. So they really need him. They are responsible, if you build it in properly. I mean they’re gonna kill that guy if he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do.
Peer pressure. Fantastic!
Then I have them practice. They find a partner, practice together on their part for their group. I know this all sounds very time consuming…
It does. It does.
But it works. You have to show them that it really helps them learn. Of course, you as an instructor are responsible for going around monitoring in case they miss something. You have to stay involved.
And it works.
Oh yes. I’ve seen research from a doctor who taught in premed. He taught two sections of the same course—but for one class it was strictly lecture and for the other class he used the interactive process. He got great evaluations from the strictly lecture class but the interactive group had better test scores. They learned more. And they gave him poorer evaluations[!]
They had to work harder; they had to work in groups and they resented it.
They resented it.
But they did better!
Yes, and ironically, he had a question on the evaluation on how they thought they did in the course—and the collaborative learning class thought they didn’t do well in the class (when they actually had) and the lecture group thought they had done very well , but they actually hadn’t scored as highly on the tests.
What does all this mean?
It means we have this engrained idea that the teacher is the master, and sits in the chair and gives out the wisdom—the one who knows everything and students should learn from them. But that’s not always the best way to learn. Not all students learn that way. We do. We’re successful traditional learners, but a lot of our students are not. Everything that I’ve really ever learned well, I’ve learned for a purpose—to write a paper about it, or present it to somebody else...
Yes, but students still expect to be taught.
Yes they’d prefer if you just tell them. You’re the master.
Do you lecture at all?
Yes. And I understand the defenders of lecture. Ron Cooper gave a workshop and wrote a long article on lecture—(see page 3)–which is very appropriate. He’s a terrific lecturer, very engaging. And I would never say we should ever get rid of that technique, but that’s just one part of the process, one step…But I want to know what students are learning; if they’re not learning it doesn’t matter how dynamic…
It doesn’t matter how dynamic you are, how many degrees you have, how many places you’ve traveled, how many languages you know, if the students aren’t learning, what’s the point?
And don’t you care? Aren’t we supposed to care what students learn? What they’re taking away?
Let’s move on. You’ve taught for a long time. Are students different today?
I’ve taught so many students at different age levels—middle school, high school, college—that it’s hard to say. But, I think the profiles are the same. You have students who are interested in learning more and get excited—their eyes light up and all that. Regardless of the fact that they’re the MTV generation, we still have students who get excited about ideas they’ve never encountered before. And then we have ones who will never be excited. You have to go and prod them.
How do you get them involved?
I taught to that student. I would go and stand by that student. I’d turn the class around if I had to, but I wanted the person who least wanted to learn in the class, to learn.
Someone told me you taught in a prison.
I did. I taught in a federal correctional institute on a year that I took off.
Did you feel at home there?
[Laughs]. What was so funny is I found the same types of students we’ve just been talking about. There were the ones who wanted to learn and there were the goof-offs. “Where’s so and so today?” “Well he can’t come; he knifed somebody with a spoon.” The profiles really don’t change.
I really don’t think students have changed that much either. My theory is that it’s the instructor that changes over time, becoming less patient, more frustrated…
I really agree with you. And when you get to that point of frustration, and you say to yourself I’m not reaching these students, then you need to think—okay what can I do different.
So the students haven’t really changed, but have you? Do you think you’ve changed as a teacher?
Have I changed? I think teaching careers go in peaks and valleys. Probably people are at their best, about their fourth, fifth or sixth year of teaching because they realize the things they’ve done wrong, and they’ve gotten better and better at correcting their mistakes…and they’re still really into it.
And after that?
Then you get a little bit tired—I think around the tenth year--and that whole burnout thing starts to happen. I guess when I had been teaching fourteen or fifteen years that may have happened. So I stepped back for a while…
Did you consciously do things to get out of your burnout?
Yes. I really work on rejuvenating.
What do you do?
Well, I take more time for me…I’m very intense in some ways and it’s hard for me to find balance. If I’m working on a project, I do it to the exclusion of everything else. And that’s bad. You really need to take time to see a movie, read a book, even though you have a hundred and fifty papers to grade. And that’s hard to do. It’s my biggest flaw.
I want to get back to the TLC in a minute, but I wanted to ask you about being teacher of the year in the state of Florida. Are you proud of that?
Yes. I was proud of it because of the process. I was nominated by the college… it involved a portfolio. Then they pick some semifinalists from other colleges, and then we had to teach—to our colleagues-- a ten minute lesson.
What did you teach?
Something about Van Gogh…I showed them Starry Night, and then I played a piece of music—Stravinsky maybe—and did a short selection from Nietzsche. I was trying to show how the art really reflects the age, how the artist is really in tune with his surroundings, his age. So I wanted them to come up with—well, what is the theme of this age?
In ten minutes?
It was really quick. And after that I became one of the four finalists and I had to teach again, at the fall conference. I actually taught a different lesson there—it had something to do with women in art, and how the perception and depiction of women has changed. It was so exciting because the other finalists were so good! I was sitting there thinking I wish I could take a class with any of these people. Another thing that made it great was—it was in Orlando at 8 in the morning and I was first to present, and there were two rows of people from CFCC who had left Ocala and Citrus at 6 in the morning just to be there.
Did that inspire you?
I thought that was so great of them! That support. I didn’t care if I won! It was wonderful! So that was really an honor, because your colleagues really know whether you’re good, as opposed to a supervisor—students and colleagues are the best judges.
OK, let’s go back a little. You were going to retire, and Dr. Dassance talked you out of it. How?
He asked me to chair and coordinate an organization dedicated to the advancement of student learning. How could you turn that down? That sounded really great. That was even before we came up with the idea for a center.
And what are some of the things you’re most proud of about the TLC? You really were the one who started it weren’t you? I think you really changed the atmosphere of the college…
They have. We’ve had terrific people. The steering committee, and the people who have been part of the task forces. Those people are the heroes. Shared governance. That’s the key. They’ve made important decisions. They’ve made decisions that changed this whole place. It was that retreat in Cedar Key where the original group, the teaching learning steering committee group from each area, came up with the idea that--yes we needed a center. Not every place we read about or visited had a physical center.
I think the physical place is really important. The computers! The couch! The tea! The food! The potpourri!
It was very important here. At FCCJ it wasn’t important at all because they have five different campuses and all that…But that process, that whole process, that day and a half in Cedar Key … was a revolution. We came up with all kinds of ideas. We talked about all of our best and worst experiences in education, especially from a student point of view, and tried to figure out a way to incorporate the good ones, to address those. We also borrowed ideas from other places.
You did a lot of brainstorming, too.
We started with the idea that money was no object. The Money is No Object College. All right, what do you want. So we generated all these things. And obviously some things--like golf cart trains to move students-- that kind of stuff didn’t work. But that retreat generated the idea that we needed this center. Dr. Dassance came to the retreat. He bought into the idea that we needed a center.
How did you decide where it was going to be? What it was going to look like?
The group came up with the idea that the office of the Vice President’s for Instruction in Building 1 would be a great place for this. They designed it. They were actually drawing little pictures. So, I don’t take a lot of credit for starting the TLC. I was glad that I had the sense to get good people together and ask the right questions. But it’s the shared responsibility that’s made it work. I’m really proud of that.
But not only are you retiring, some restructuring is in the works.
The TLC cannot lose its identity. This will become the Office for Professional Development but it will still be the TLC too. There will be a professional development manager who will be responsible for programs for the entire family, all employees groups.
But you do that now…?
Yes we’ve done that. I’ve never shut anybody out. We’ve had workshops and activities career and professional people could attend. They were all welcome. But there needs to be some sort of organization, and that person should have a board reporting to her or to him, that would come up with ideas, like what do the career employees want to do, so there’s a consistent kind of professional development for the entire college. I think that person should do some of the same things we’ve done for faculty, like have them evaluate their own roles in a learning college. Wouldn’t that be important? To have a secretary saying what is my role? So I would see this person engaging a group to work on that. Also, for example, the Professional Development Plan—the PDP—I think that’s a major institutional kind of responsibility. I think every group should do one. It would help this office set up workshops, according to what people’s goals are on their PDP.
And this new manager will report to?
Directly to Dr. Dassance.
Will the name change?
I’ve been asked that a lot because people still want it to be called the Teaching/Learning Center. No, I don’t think the name will change.
But will there be someone who works primarily with faculty?
Yes. There will still be a TLC Steering Committee, just like there is now. There will still be a coordinator, a faculty member who will get reassigned time to focus on faculty. And the coordinator will work with the Professional Development Manager.
They’re going to have to work closely together…
Absolutely. They should work closely together. But this will be good because it will let the coordinator focus more time and energy on our instructors. A lot of my time now is spent doing budgets, signing travel forms. That really shouldn’t be the teaching learning coordinator’s job. I think that things will run the same, or better. There should be progress…
You’re always the optimist, Lynne.
I am! You know it’s amazing that somebody who’s as old as I am could still be a Pollyanna. What can I say? I’m an idealist.
I still can’t believe you’re leaving. There will be a huge empty space in the heart and soul of this college when you’re gone, Lynne. You’ve done so much for the faculty and students at CFCC.
It was a difficult decision. I’m still torn.
What do you think you’ll miss the most?
The people. They’re tucked into my heart. People that I’m close to, people that I admire. But other people too—all of them. For a shy person—and I am shy—I really like people. And I think, if I’ve been a decent teacher, that’s why, because I like them. The students know. They can tell.
Linda Smith was a busy traveler in March! She attended the Grief Counseling and Clinical Practice seminar in Gainesville on the 14th, which provided information on how grief differs depending on age, gender and culture. The audience shared personal experiences and learned therapeutic communication strategies.
On March 18-20 Linda went to Memphis, Tennessee, for the Creative Teaching Workshop for Nursing Educators. “This was an inspiring workshop that stirred my creative energy,” says Linda. The “think tank” setting provided strategies to promote active learning and critical thinking, including how to use data banks to store patient’s medical information, allowing students to work on case studies and access other critical data.
Thomas Neufeld from Criminal Justice went to Jacksonville on February 12-13 for an instructor update on DUI Detection and Standard Field Sobriety Testing. The session provided current law and procedures updates necessary to maintain state required certification, as well as new manuals, videos, and PowerPoint presentations for the classroom.
Delores Hunt and members of the Cosmetology
department attended the Bonner Brothers International Beauty Show in Atlanta
on February 17-19, 2001. The show focused on African-American hair styling
techniques and the problems the industry is facing financially, which,
according to Delores, “are the same problems our students face here in
Ocala. Local businesses do not possess a firm understanding of financial
obligations to the government and employees.” Many solutions were offered,
which those who attended will be able to pass on to their coworkers and