Welcome to my website/blog
Of course, we have probably never met, face to face, but somewhere along in my career as a community college teacher, we could have met. You could have been a student in my class. Not a typical student, I hasten to add, for the typical student, the average student, would be unlikely to seek out this web site and engage its content, at least not at the stage of life of being a typical student.
If not you, then someone very much like you, in terms of measurable statistics. For example, age. The youngest student I ever had in class was 12 years old, there by special arrangement, accompanied by his father. The oldest student I ever had was 83, bent on achieving his lifelong dream of an AA degree. Most of my students- the typical ones- were 20ish, and a year or two out of High School, but there were always people in the 30-40-50 year old range as well, especially in the classes that met in the evening.
In terms of academic preparation, some had none, by any standard of college entrance requirements. At the other end, I have had professional engineers with Ph.D. degrees, and medical doctors, dentists, lawyers. Along with students preparing to go forward into 4-year colleges, I have had my share of students who have come back from those places to fulfill lower division requirements. And others who, after a hiatus of many years, have decided to come back for a second, or third, try at academics. I have had students on trust fund support, in class just to satisfy their curiosities, and students who were in my class to qualify for a sports team, or for student aid, or for car insurance, or because their divorced spouse was required to support them while they re-educated themselves. One couple was clearly using my evening class as cover for an affair. My own reasons for going to community college, where I discovered geology, was to avoid military service for a couple of years.
I’m just trying to give you the extremes here to validate my earlier statement. Teaching introductory geology for more than 40 years, to classes of 25-35 students, 5 times a week, times two semesters per year, plus sometimes summer school and frequently evening classes overtime, comes up between 10,000 and 15,000 students. Somewhere in there, in all likelihood, there was someone very much like you. That person and I were together for 16 weeks in a 35X40 foot classroom, struggling with grades and assignments, schedules and conflicts, each with our own successes and failures, external and internal shocks, between the time of the assassination of John F. Kennedy to 9/11. I have looked you in the eye, wondered what the obstacle was that prevented you from grasping what the word “dip” means, wondered what lesson I could devise that would lead you around that obstacle.
I am retired now, and no longer teaching in the classroom. While I was in the classroom, my professional obligation was to each of my diverse students, regardless of their individual motivations and preparations. The taxpayers who paid my salary did not say to me that I only needed to concern myself with the best and the brightest, the well motivated and the well prepared. There is a place for that: the university. In a community college, my responsibility was to every student in the class, from the front row to the back, to move each one a little further down the road called education. I took that responsibility seriously, even when those very same students would have preferred that I slack off. You can get some sense of the conflict that caused by looking me up on reviewum.com (Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill, California). I was not particularly well liked by my average student.
But now I am beyond that responsibility. Retirement is a post-career career. In every classroom, there were always a smattering of atypical students, those with which I felt I was going with the grain, instead of against it. The fact that you are here now tells me you are likely one of those. It’s nice to see you again.
George D. Turner
Retired Geology Instructor