America’s Best University President – The New York Times

Excellent article on the reason why academic freedom is necessary.

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Lecture Me. Really.

Molly Worthen, assistant professor of history, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina, has written an article about lecturing in history that captures my teaching method as to why and how “lecturing” is fundamental to thinking and interacting with other minds in the classroom, hence, in the world.

From the article, I have used the very same John Henry Newman’s quotes to justify teaching by mainly lecture since I began in 1965.

I liked her idea of having a student rebut parts of the lecture, in some fashion, the next time in class.

The vogue for active learning blinds us to the value of ancient teaching methods.

Source: Lecture Me. Really. – The New York Times

Department of Philosophy–University of Texas at Austin

UT College of Liberal Arts Department of Philosophy.

Click the link above.  Please read the three questions poised under the category of “Welcome.”  Do you have personal, developing answers to the three questions?  Any class you take in college and university should be providing you a platform or answers (partial or complete) to those three questions; that includes college courses in history, literature, biology, math, or the arts.

If you are not examining answers to these questions daily, then you need to be.  You have a choice to resolve doubt as much as you can  Just do it.

I quote from the Department of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin, webpage.

Philosophers have generally taken several questions as central:

  • What is there? (And, what, in particular, am I?)
  • How do I know?
  • What should I do?

The Philosophy Department of the University of Texas at Austin carries on that tradition.

Frederick H. Ginascol: My Professor at University of Texas at Austin, 1961

I sat along with seventy-five other people in the aisle at Bates Auditorium (I think it was) to hear, learn and study philosophy with Frederick H. Ginascol of the University of Texas at Austin.  The lecture hall was overflowing, every desk taken.  Those of us that sat in the aisle used clipboards or hardbound composition books to take notes.  I was one of those sitting in the second tier, left side of the auditorium from the lectern’s point-of-view.  There were perhaps 250 students in the class, seventy-five of us in the aisle.

Like the quote about Tony Judt in the footer of this blog, Dr. Ginascol gave us –three times a week — everything he had.  He lectured and induced discussion on the lower tier for the first half of class, then moved to the middle tier to finish the class so that the peanut gallery could see him.  I sat in the upper tier and was delighted he had the sensitivity to come away from the lectern.  He was anxious about the class and would put Tums in his mouth to settle his stomach, the corners of his mouth having a bit of white foam in the course of his teaching.  He told us what he was doing in taking the Tums and that disclosure endeared me to him.

I made a “C” in his class, but my first essay was an “A.”  I still have my notes from the class, not good notes, but notes as a freshman from a small town makes:  sometimes in pencil, little organization, gaps.  I value those notes.

Dr. Ginascol’s birth and death years are 1907 — 1999.  In 1990, when I returned to graduate school, I called down to UT-Austin to check on my records and I inquired about Ginascol, thinking him deceased.  Oh, no, the secretary said.  He’s very much alive.  Would you like his phone number?  I think I took it down, and I warmed with the knowledge that he was still alive and active.  I wish that I had called him to tell him what an influence he had on me.  Really, it’s because of him that I turned to college teaching even though I wanted to become a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State.

I say to my students that there are three things going on in class: you, me and the material (book, event, topic, content).  The textual component should inflame the teacher and, hopefully, by the enthusiasm, stimulate the student to consider the substantive import of the material.  Ginascol assigned four books: a reference text, Mysticism and Logic, The Dynamics of Faith and The Will to Believe (Bertrand Russell, Paul Tillich and William James).  Ginascol inspired.  He even brought out discussion in a class of 250+ students!  So great, so talented and so loved by us.

Ginascol illuminated deep and critical ideas that govern our world.  He was a walking and discursive Light that showed us a way out of our darkness, fumbling and stumbling to a higher level of confusion.  Even so, when we walked out of his class, we were no longer illiterate.  He helped make us strong.  I was never the same again after his class.

______________________________

Notes:

DOCUMENTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY
IN MEMORIAM FREDERICK H. GINASCOL

Frederick H. Ginascol, professor emeritus of philosophy, died on August 10, 1999. He was 92.

Professor Ginascol was born on June 30, 1907, in Lynn, Massachusetts. Following service in World War II, he received a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in 1947. He earned master’s and PhD degrees from The University of Texas at Austin in 1949 and 1952, respectively.

Professor Ginascol taught at St. Paul’s College and at St. Paul’s Major Seminary. He joined the faculty of the University in 1952. His research interests included pre-Socratic Greeks, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of history.

In 1957 Professor Ginascol was awarded the Lemuel Scarbrough Foundation Faculty Award for excellence in teaching. In 1969 he won the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation Award in recognition of his teaching and scholarship.

[From a Memorial Resolution of the Faculty of The University of Texas at Austin.]