Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Top Ten

Week 7 of the Wednesday lists
Being back on a college campus this weekend (for Brighton Beach Memoirs) got me to thinking about some of my favorite classes. I thought it might make a fun list.

My Top Ten College Courses
* Introduction to Shakespeare
This was the only class Jeffrey and I ever took together. We had a marvelous time, and both of us fell utterly in love with Shakespeare. It was our first day of class and in walks a shorter, balder Woody Allen. No joke. When he opens his mouth though he sounds exactly like Droopy Dog. We both sat there thinking, "Uh oh. What are we in for?" On and on he droned taking the role, talking about the syllabus, the rules, blah, blah, blah. We're both starting to think that it's not too late to drop this course. And then. Oh, and then. Dr. Shaun asks us to take out our text and turn to page 213. He stands up, clears his throat, opens his mouth. When he opens his mouth he sounds exactly like Sir Lawrence Olivier. He taught as well as he read, too. What a teacher!

* Acting II
Oh how I loved my acting courses. I would have minored in theater, but you weren't able to have a job since university theater productions were your job. Still, what fun I had.

* Voice and Diction
This was another class from the theater department. We had to begin each class with vocal exercises that still make me giggle when I think of them. Voice and Diction has probably served me more effectively and taught me more real-life skills than any course I ever took. One thing I can pass on to you right now? There is no such word as "machure". It is correctly pronounced "ma-tu-r".

* Modern Dance
If you know me in person, I bet you are laughing right about now. Yes, klutzy me loved modern dance. I loved the teacher and fulfilled every one of my phys. ed. requirements with her. After aerobics, she talked me into trying modern dance. I took it with a friend, and loved every minute of it. None of us in the class could dance so we all learned together. The course was really about movement and grace and feeling comfortable in our bodies. What woman doesn't need that? I still think of my professor telling us that we should move as though we were a gift to the people who watched us.

* American Literature by Women
I have been a reader all my life. My first complete sentence was, "Wead it to me, Momma." By the time I took this class, I had spent thousands of hours reading. Still. In my reading life, this is the class that turned me into an adult. It also gave me the gift of Willa Cather.

* Abnormal Psychology
At the time I was strongly considering becoming a psychologist. Oh, I loved talking about experiences, emotions, motivations, and the way people think. I loved trying to figure out what makes people tick. I loved listening to people's stories and trying to help. Still do. But, then I met Jeffrey and realized that what I wanted most was a good marriage. The two are not mutually exclusive, I know. But, my filter doesn't work very well. I get awfully emotional and wrapped up in the lives of the people I care about. I knew where this path would lead me. I would spend an hour listening to an abused woman and then watch her go home to the abuser. I knew I'd come home and yell at Jeffrey. And, so. I choose another path. I just couldn't do it. Weak filter.

* Classical Literature
This is the class that really started me thinking about becoming a teacher. My professor was as passionate about her subject as any teacher I'd ever known. I wanted to ignite that kind of passion in students of my own. The long term result of this course? I fell in love with Allen Mandelbaum's translation of Ovid. I learned to appreciate more kinds of literature than I ever would have thought possible. And, eventually, long after graduation, I went back to school to earn my teacher's certification. Today, I pray every day to display exactly that kind of passion.

* Art History
I took this class when I was back in school earning my teacher's certification. I had one extra-curricular credit to earn and decided to use it on one of my passions. This class was pure pleasure start to finish. It also gave me a mid-life plan. When Sloane is grown and I've retired from teaching (many, many years from now) I plan to earn another Masters; this one in art history. I want to volunteer as a docent at a great museum. If I'm lucky, I'll get to help design the kids' programing.

* Incorporating the Arts in the Elementary Classroom
This course is second only to Eric Jensen in its influence on my teaching. I try each day to use the arts to enhance learning opportunities and ignite curiosity. We dance every day. Create every day. Definitely sing every single day. The arts open doors for students who might not be reached any other way. And, oh, what fun it is!

* Teaching Reading
This course was another revelation in how to teach. Dr. Ponder had it all. Passion for her subject, creative approaches to lessons, meaningful assignments, connections with her students, deep subject knowledge, excellent pedagogy, and the ability to make learning fun. I decided then that she is who I would be when I grew up.

What about you? What are some of your favorite learning experiences?


Gigi said...

What a beautiful list. As someone who taught college students for many years, I loved reading it, because we so seldom hear how our work affects our students' lives. You, I know, were an amazing student, just like you're an amazing teacher now.

I loved my Shakespeare classes, too! And art and literary theory and Latin American Lit and . . . oh, I loved college and grad school. You've got me thinking about just how much I loved them!

xoxo Gigi

Heart2Heart said...


Love all your literature classes, I would have taken those as well, in addition to some creative writing classes to help balance me out.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Oliag said...

...thinking about this I realize that the courses that I liked the best were all about the teacher...more than the subject...

Georgianna said...

Sounds like a dream curriculum!! Wouldn't it be fun to just study all the time? :) What fun that you and Jeffrey met in Intro to Shakespeare. Shakespeare at age 12 got me hooked on drama and acting, which became my major and my major focus in life for many years. This list brings back great memories Have a wonderful weekend! I think we're listening to Arkangel R & J. xo – g

Caroline said...

Wonderful! Honestly, I can barely remember the classes I took in One of my faves was a modern music class (well, 1900's to present). We learned about everything from early blues, country, bluegrass, rockabilly, British invasion, punk, classic rock, etc. It was incredible!

Yiota said...

I miss studying so much! Some of my favourite courses were 'Phonetics' because of an inspiring professor - she made learning phonetics fun, if you can imagine- and 'Teaching English: Theory and Practice', another great professor. I also liked some of my Enlish Literature courses, but I wasn't very fond of American Literature. I'm thinking of doing a Masters degree in Applied Linguistics when my son is a bit older.

PS. Thanks for your comments. Have you seen my 'Simple Things-school project' post? It's a little farther down on the first page.

kamana said...

i agree with oliag. it was for me mostly about the lecturer than the subject that made it memorable for me. and there are many that stand out. for example, the educational psychology course was made memorable because the lecturer was so passionate about the subject that it made it come alive for us; while a course i took in french revolution is memorable because of the drop dead gorgeous (and very young) lecturer!

Laura said...

Stunning! What a wonderful idea and so very interesting!!! I wish I would have been a more serious student when I was in college. I am going to work on my list soon! Thank you for such a wonderful post.

Rita said...

Wow Relyn, I am very impressed. I always knew that you were very smart, but this just makes me realize more things about you. You have always been such a people person and that is great. I've watched you teach and know what a fantastic teacher you are. You learned well under your teachers.

smith kaich jones said...

Dang, girl, you paid a lot of attention! :) Impressive! As for me, a seminar class stays with me, though I cannot remember the professor's name. We read and discussed - just 3 or 4 books all semester, but I learned that we tend to make heroes out of those who fail - Scott & Amundsen trying to reach the South Pole comes to mind; we forget Amundsen, who did everything right and reached The Pole first, instead elevating Scott to hero status, he doing everything wrong, costing him his life and lives of his men. We make movies about him. We romanticize that failure. It was very eye-opening - we do that now with companies who are successful, with people who make money. We romanticize the poor, and in so doing, keep them poor.

Other classes? B&W photography taught by my friend Robert, who was Ansel Adams' assistant and knew his stuff - I still remember it all. Several art classes and a literature class, and yes, art history. Art History taught me to look, to see, and to write about what I saw. It was more important to where I am now that I give it credit for. You've pointed that out to me. :)


Tracy said...

Your learning echoes so much of what I love about learning and interests as well! I always loved anything to do with literature or art, so you Amer. Lit. by Women, Classical Lit. and Art History resonate huge! I still love learning and delving into these things. In high school I took photography class that was fun, so was a plastics & metal shop class--that was really exciting! I made a clear plastic swan-shaped candy dish--very fun! I had an excellent art teach for some years--he was such an inspiration. The visual and the written still excite and are the realms I dwell in most. Wonderful post, Relyn! I must thank you for the very sweet comments you left for me today...warmed my heart so. :o) Happy Day ((HUGS))

Jeanne said...

Love and kisses my darling friend
I love you

thanks for your visits and kind words
Love Jeanne♥

Marilyn said...

Yes, a beautiful list and a subject I hadn't thought about. I also loved Art History, but it was so difficult to stay awake when watching the slides in the dark. In high school I feel in love with English Literature with Mrs Woods. Then in design school I loved watercolors and painting. Now you have given me something to give more thought to.

maggie said...

You are such an open-hearted soul Relyn. What an interesting list you have. For me an English course in High School stands out because the teacher was so aghast at the lack of understanding of grammer by the majority of the class that she declared she was going no further til we had a basic understanding of grammer which proceeded to teach. She cared about us that much. Hakomi, a form of body centered Psychology which I took over a three year period with the same group of people made for a rich experience in content and connections.

Jeanie said...

OK, I think we had the same course load. I was a theatre major, English and art history minors, with an emphasis in children's theatre, so I took lots of kid lit classes, and teaching classes for a bit (never got the certificate.)

My favorites were most of my theatre classes, all of my art history classes, puppetry, medieval lit (Chaucer and Beowulf and things like that), Fitzgerald and Hemingway (loved one, not the other!), linguistics... I loved most stuff, except the sciences! When it came to grad school, I had two creativity classes (really! -- Creativity in general and the Creativity in Education) before I took a break and came back in PR for my MA. I think we would have liked each others' classes!

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

Many of my classes were boring business courses. I did take a film class that was fun. The class I enjoyed the most was a travel writing course I took last summer. It is much more fun to take a class because you want to, not because you have to.

Patti said...

Such a wonderful list...Made me laugh- Freshman year I went for all my interests: astronomy, philosophy, economics, American Lit, psychology. I was NUTS! I also LOVED my Art for Education, Psychology of the Elderly, Kiddie Lit, and Abnormal Psychology. My least favorite...Anatomy (but we borrowed the shark and the cat and had fun with them in the dorm). I have often thought I would be an excellent lifetime student- I love college campuses and classes. Weird, huh?!

Hindsfeet said...

well, if I HAD gone to college, your list would've fit me to a it stands and of necessity, my public library has served as my "college" for the past eighteen years.....

...thanks to my mom and grandma for instilling in me a love for reading...speaking of, I see here on your sidebar that your current family read is "The Hobbit"...My mom read that aloud to me when I was probably seven years old...that was our bedtime story at one point...

...what can I say, we were a big Hippie Californian Clan...

; )

Ms. K @ Write On Thyme said...

Loved those lit classes! And Shakespeare though I think it was the prof who made it great. She loved it and made it contemporary for us.
Thanks for sharing your list. I'm behind. I'll have to go back and look at the others.
Hugs to you,

Angie Muresan said...

Fun list, Relyn. The English literature and history classes were my favorite, but not because of any of my professors. In fact, the only professor I really liked was my French Literature professor.

Jessica said...

You took the most exciting college courses! I took college level courses in high school to cover my 'core' and then received a 'science' undergrad and grad degree--so there wasn't a Shakespeare art history class for me. My goal is to go back someday and just audit a couple of those courses--such fun!

Derrick said...

Hi Relyn,

You're obviously a good student! I want to thank you for pointing me to Mandelbaum's 'Metamophoses of Ovid'. I've just been reading the few pages offered at Amazon and love it! I must get a copy.

Johanna said...

what a fantastic list! I remember back to my university the time I just wanted them over with but now I wish I could go back to school and savour eery moment of it. Someday I will do my Masters in Fine Arts

GraceGal said...

Your list caused a bit of nostalgia for me. I went back to college a few years ago and then due to several physical issues and burnout I took a leave of absence and never returned. I loved my literature and poetry classes. I never wrote better than when I was forced to :) Thanks for sharing.

Nieves said...

That is a very long and very nice list Relyn, no doubt! I agree with you in some of them, like arts or literature or Psychology (I studied it, in fact, but not working on it, I am afraid!) though instead of your theatre classes I took photography, decoration, massaging or other languages.

Thanks for you comment in my blog!
And have a nice weekend!

Jeanie said...

Thanks for your nice comments on "Hedgehog." Doesn't it move with such grace (and sadness) near the end?

Marilyn said...

I thought I had you email, but cannot find it. You are a winner at Delights of the Heart. Email me your address and the plate will be sent to you.

Jaime said...

I felt the same way about psychology...took quite a few classes, then started teaching piano and knew that I needed to keep myself in a positive place during my days or I would quickly drown.

My favourite class in college was Children's Literature...the first thing our prof said to us was "when you walk into this classroom, you become a child again" and it was just like that. We read so many favourite classics like The Secret Garden, and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and many many fairy tales and discussed them in depth.
It was wonderful...I wanted to take that class all over again.

Oldies, but Goodies