Friday, September 02, 2011

Oxford American's list of 'The Most Creative Teachers in the South' has strong rural flavor

The South is the nation's most rural region, in terms of population, so it shouldn't be surprising that the Oxford American's list of "The Most Creative Teachers in the South" is heavy with those at rural colleges, rural backgrounds or rural projects. Here are five examples:

David Haskell, University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., "conducts biology courses structured around on-site or hands-on lessons. In his ornithology course, he distributes bird carcasses that he's collected around campus. Each student is given a different bird, ranging from owls to hummingbirds, and becomes responsible for cleaning and rebuilding the skeleton." He says, "It's like a little term paper of bone." He raises goats and rabbits and takes students to his farm.

Frank X. Walker, University of Kentucky, Lexington: A poet, he invented the word "Affrilachia" to describe the relatively little known culture of African Americans in Appalachia. It's now in Webster's. He "adopted the totemic initial 'X' in college, following the influence of leaders like Malcolm X whose quest to discover their pre-slavery heritage led them to remain 'nameless'." His teaching inspired a rally by students to protest racist expressions aimed at President Obama on campus.

Beth Glazier-McDonald of Centre College in Danville, Ky.: "A willfully lecture-based instructor in a time of low-key seminar-style pedagogy," she teaches "Biblical History and Ideas" and a course she founded, "Biblical Hebrew." The latter course challenges some Christians. "People often think that questioning the text, and questioning the deity, is anathema," she says. "So I say, 'Let's go to the text, let's see what it says about faith, about belief.'"

Sarah Hardy, Hampden-Sydney College, in the town of like name in south-central Virginia's Prince Edward County, "has the rare privilege of being the female professor of a course titled 'American Masculinity' at the all-male institution." The South Carolina native "uses her female perspective for the secondary purpose of furnishing an objective voice in the discussions of preconceived notions about traditional masculinity."

Andrew Freear, Auburn University, runs the land-grant institution's "low-income development architecture program, the Rural Studio," in which students design projects "ranging from individual houses to farmers' markets and 40-acre parks." He says, I'm there as a kind of psychiatrist, confidante, mother, father, psychoanalyst, friend, drinking buddy." (Read more)

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