It is presentation day, I wake up and think. And presentation day means business clothing.
For me, anyway. I know my classmates will probably show up in jeans–or shorts, depending on their fancy. But in college, I had a Politics and Government professor who drilled it in our heads: always dress nicely for presentations.
And so I do.
Yesterday in class one of my students referred to the president as “Trump.”
“Ah,” I said. “What is one of the rules of our discussion group?”
Of course, no one remembered but it is this: always give elected officials their title. Even (especially) if you disagree with them. I learned that from my Poli Gov professor too.
The professor was a retired Army Colonel and many viewed his classes as an easy A. And I won’t lie, they were. Ask any of his students from my sophomore year and they will tell you in hushed, awed whispers about ‘that one guy who got a B.’ I suspect I will still remember his name when I turn 95. You had to really work for a B.
The Colonel did not like textbooks or finals. He emphasized group presentations and exhaustive note taking. (The note taking he called journaling and to be honest, you could probably fill it with “Col doesn’t read this Col doesn’t read this Col doesn’t read this” and still get that A.)
Academically, then, he was not the most challenging teacher. But the older I get, the more I find myself relying on the things I learned in his class. What I thought were his personality quirks have become my mantra. Or at least the way I try and model my discussion groups. (Including encouraging students to bring food because what genius schedules class at noon?! I have yet to ban knitting, though.) I might not have learned about federalism in his class–but he did teach life skills. And how to dress sharp.
(Actually, he would frequently say that girls always dress sharp. It was the boys he needed to keep an eye on. He took this so seriously that whenever we had group projects and there one was girl and several boys–which happened frequently in our male dominated major–he would compliment the girl on ‘getting the guys to dress up.’ Regardless of how much she actually did!)
I realize this post and my use of past tense makes it sound like the professor died or something. To my knowledge he hasn’t. (Though he did finally take retirement.) But as I rummaged around for a business skirt to wear today, I was reminded once again of a professor I probably took too much for granted in my undergrad and yet who left a big impact on my life.