What’s your favorite class?

Yesterday, in a meeting with a textbook publisher, a question was posed to those in attendance: What’s your favorite class? I started to think about how I would respond, and with each response, I started to realize they are ALL my favorites for varied reasons. I was stuck. How would I respond? Fortunately, my keen colleague to my right said, “What about your favorite one this week?” Ah ha! I could answer that properly.
My favorite class this week was my ENH295 Banned Books and Censorship class. It is taught in a hybrid format and is a concurrent honors/non-honors course. While each week offers rich discussion and thought-provoking inquiry, this week, students were discussing the role of YAL novels and their individual reading selections. One of the books a group read was also a selection that another student had read in a prior K-12 educational setting. She relayed to the class that in the previous instance, the book had a word in it that was considered inappropriate and was thus black-Sharpied out of every text. In our class, she told everyone that she never figured out what the word was. Fortunately, a peer had a copy of the text, and we conducted our own investigation to find the word. Did she find it? Yes! Though, of course, it isn’t appropriate to write here. We then discussed how much energy must have gone into censoring one word. My favorite classes to teach are the ones where my students are engaged and invested in the content. This week, one of those times was in ENH295.


2 thoughts on “What’s your favorite class?”

  1. What’s my favorite class Write 6×6 prompt.

    There are so many classes come to mind. Because I’ve taken quite a few classes, I seem to remember import parts from many. Here is my story…

    As a young undergrad, two of my favorite classes were taken in rural Arizona, at a community college. The first one was an English class called the Power of Pursuasion. In this class we analyzed things like symbolic propaganda in political campaigns. It was perfect timing as the Bush Jr. campaign had just gone into full swing. There was no shortage of Gulf war imagery, American flags, and bald eagles on primetime television. Learning how propaganda played upon the emotion of patriotism and fear; and how powerful emotional manipulation could be on consciousness, made this an unforgettable class.

    At the same rural Arizona community college, I also took a class called moral and ethical philosophy. What made this class so great was the large and diverse students that enlivened discussions. The required readings included books such as Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. My Professor was incredibly knowledgeable, yet approachable and down-to-earth. I recall, one her hobbies was studying bats. She had explained that her mind needed a break from heavy philosophical thought, so she picked something she thought was entirely removed from deep-thinking.

    When I transferred to a state university, there were three classes early on, that really made an impression. The first, American history from 1800 to 1900. Here, I learned about the story of Geronimo. This lesson plan changed my life and my perspective on how people treat one another. I consider it a true and profound lesson about humanity. Importantly, it was the first time that I felt shame and disgust for what my ancestors were most likely a part of. I was so moved, that I foolishly thought I would confront my great-grandmother about what I had learned. “How could we kill a man’s daughter, a man’s wife, a man’s mother, and a man’s grandmother in front of him and expect him to ‘like’ us,” I angrily demanded an answer. My soft-spoken great grandmother still lived on property nestled between the Yavapai Apache tribe and I desperately sought out another perspective to better understand. There was much she had to offer, but, I was taken back when she expressed her own deeply entrenched sense of shame and disgust also. It never occurred to me that people remained silent because of their own powerlessness. My great grandmother felt a personal responsibility for not stopping inhumane treatment. She shared with me a personal experience she had as a child, where she witnessed a violent scalping of a young Native boy. On occasion, she would see him running in her dreams at night. We cried together and on occasion, a young Native boy haunts now visits me in my dreams. And all of this from a history class! It was amazing. And it helped lay the foundation of a life-long love of learning, that remains in my soul to this day.

    Another one of my favorite classes at the state university was a course on Race, Gender, and Class. One of the of writing assignments for this class, involved writing a paper that omitted gendered pronouns. This class, and that assignment, were way before their time. The transgender community and equal rights protecting sexual orientation had not become mainstream, nor widely excepted in society yet. At the time, I thought this assignment was ridiculous and really hard to do. In my professional life, I have used that writing exercise more than any other homework assignment I have ever had to complete. Every piece of writing that I compose for an online audience, I now recognize and honor a gender neutral audience. In this class I also learned about chivalry and different treatments based off of feminity / masculinity. I also learned about the ramifications of white privilege and what it meant for me to come from a family considered to be working class poor.

    And finally, I recall a social psychology class that taught me about personality types. My professor was Polish and she spoke in a thick accent. But, as an auditory learner, this forced me to pay very close attention to what she said in her lectures. It was amazing how much more I learned, then in other classes. I recall meeting with my professor after class one day to ask her a question that had been troubling me since I had learned about personality types. As I sort of fumbled through my notes, she politely interrupted me and said: “personality types are considered to be deterministic and they do not change. But, fret not – for I am a Type A personality too and you are in good company.”

    There are so many more classes I could talk about. But, these are the ones that came to mind. Ironically, the really bad classes seem to have been just as impressionable. I took a graduate seminar once and the only thing I learned, was how to scoop cat litter and a few miscellaneous tid-bits about wayward preschool children. Both of these topics were personal issues of the professor. They just seemed to be talked about in nearly every class. Don’t get me wrong, I like practicality – especially when deep subjects, or theories, or philosophies are being lectured on. It’s just, my expectations of a graduate seminar on Violence, did not even come close to the topics lectured on. I chalked this experience up as a form of personal discipline and an exercise in perseverance, while practicing reservation of pen and tongue. I sensed, this instructor was not someone in which you could even attempt to know more about something. However, my cat litter does seem to get scooped regularly these days. Maybe, I learned more than I give credit for.


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