Wanted: Your Best Classroom Memories

November 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm 3 comments

The professor who surprised, challenged, terrified, or inspired you. The classroom where you did your best work—or where you hope never to set foot again. The partner from your lab or study group who drove you to distraction or became a life-long friend.

We know you’ve got stories. We want to hear ‘em.

For our next “interactive” feature, we’re looking for your most compelling classroom memories. You can tell your story in the comments below; send submissions (no more than 250 words) to heypennstater@psu.edu; or mail them to: The Penn Stater magazine, Hintz Family Alumni Center, University Park, PA, 16802. All submissions are due by Dec. 6. We’ll use the best of them for a feature in an upcoming issue of The Penn Stater.

imagesWhat are my best classroom memories? Hey, thanks for asking. I only ever took one class where, on the final day of the semester, the entire room offered a spontaneous standing ovation for the instructor. That was Hist 143—History of Fascism & Nazism, with Prof. Jackson Spielvogel (right). The class was tremendous from start to finish—no doubt there are thousands of alumni who feel the same—but it’s the day that Holocaust survivor Kurt Moses ’11h came to speak to a rapt, standing-room-only lecture hall in Sparks Building that I’ll never forget.

Then there was Soc 119, taught by Sam Richards (below), who’d been on campus only a few years at that point and was, in the minds of many of us fairly straight-laced undergrads, some sort of enlightened hippie whose class was popular largely because it had the potential for fireworks. But there was so much more to it than that. As I learned over the course of a memorable semester, Sam’s whole thing was perspective.

2358380b51651c63cafd5fcc0ea3a9e94bcf032b_254x191And of course, it still is. Sam long ago cut his hair, but he’s hardly cut back on his approach to opening the eyes and minds of his students; in fact, through their World in Conversations program, Sam and his wife Laurie Mulvey ’94g have expanded their work to a global audience. Now, Sam lives right around the corner from me, meaning the unconventional professor who blew my undergrad mind is now the very cool guy who I occasionally get to talk about Important Stuff with over a beer at neighborhood gatherings. Who knew I’d be making classroom memories 20 years later?

Ryan Jones, senior editor

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Entry filed under: Liberal Arts, The Penn Stater magazine. Tags: , , , , , .

The Penn Stater Daily — Nov. 13, 2013 The Penn Stater Daily — Nov. 14, 2013

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stephanie Asalone  |  November 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I am so glad I took Sam’s class. Thanks for mentioning him…I went to Penn State to have my mind changed and my perspective widened, and if one class and one prof could be given credit for doing that, it is Soc 119 and Sam Richards.

  • 2. Courtnie Ross  |  November 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Ryan,
    You made my day, thinking back to those two classes. I too enjoyed both and loved how they both stirred things up and challenged our young minds!

  • 3. Anthony Demangone  |  November 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Dr. Spielvogel was, by far, the most effective educator I met at Penn State. To this day, I recall, with great clarity, the final lecture of his class. How he said that Naziism wasn’t a German problem. It was a human problem. And to always be on the lookout of those who gained support by blaming others. He received a standing ovation that day, and I was certainly one of those on my feet. I still remember thinking…this is what I always hoped college would be. Thanks for the memories, Ryan.

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