Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Retro Recommendation

Portland Community College did a thoughtful thing as the spring term began. Sylvania Campus president Linda Gerber sent us copies of comments that students filled out when asked by advisers and counselors, “Do you have a GREAT TEACHER (sic) you’d like to recommend to other PCC students?”

The good news is that I had a student who recommended me.

“Savvy,” the student wrote. “Challenges students’ perceptions about media and gets them to utilize critical thinking more skillfully. I loved being in his class. Like I got smarter every day I showed up...”

Ah the joy of reading that!

Now the not-so-good news.

One: I retired at the end of last term. The recommendation is for naught.

Two: The student took my class in the winter of 2006. In media terms, that’s an eon ago, which is one of the reasons I retired.

The media rapids run so fast that this teacher had to pull hard just to keep from being swept under. Just when I'd learned to navigate blogging, I'd be swamped by Twitter or Facebook or “sexting.”

Students, on the other hand, ride media white water like seasoned rafters. They grew up on these rapids.

Look at me. I still read the newspaper (two actually). How 20th Century!

And unlike some of my students last term, I’m adamant that Oprah and Rush are NOT journalists.

Edward R. WHO?

So my former student’s recommendation is a curious artifact. I hope my admirer is still getting “smarter” about media. I always tried to teach my students how to learn without my gentle prodding and probing. I wanted them to prod and probe themselves.

Now I’m doing that with me.

I’m the one trying to “get smarter” — at least every day I show up.

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