Thin Line

Tim McGivern
3 min read
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Let There Be Light. Everybody can remember that special teacher, the one that changed the course of your life, the one you deified for at least half a semester, the one that made you laugh and pushed your intellectual curiosity to new limits, taught you to think analytically and with an open mind and, yes, was such a potent force in the classroom that you thought to yourself, secretly of course, that maybe someday you too would become a college professor and live the noble, erudite campus life. As Jonathan Swift so aptly put it: Whoever excels in what we prize, will be a hero in our eyes; each student when pleased with what is taught, will have the teacher in her thought. Or something like that.

For my part, I always imagined leading some sort of scholarly existence until my first college keg party. From that point forward, over the next four years, campus life was all about sex, alcohol and a C-average. But the Comptian call was hard to suppress, and following graduate school I managed to land myself a part-time community college teaching gig, which, at TVI, is genuinely fun and rewarding. Of course there is always the challenge of motivating students to do their best, especially in English composition. Most students detest writing and by association loathe the instructor who they see as nothing more than their oppressor.

This semester hasn't been much different. After eight weeks of exhaustively trying to eradicate the comma splice, fragment and run-on sentence from each student's “process,” I finally heard a question. It came following a long set of directions, repeated three times for effect, and after I finished by saying: “Any questions?”

“Yeah,” one of my better-performing students said. “How come you never let us out early?”

And now, beginning in January, students at UNM can take a class from the Big Kahuna himself, Gov. Bill Richardson, aptly called “How State Government Works.”

This is a one-day per week class, offered from January through March, by the UNM Honors Program.

“I enjoy teaching, and look forward to the opportunity to engage students in a productive discussion about the issues that matter most to New Mexicans,” said the guv in a prepared statement released last week. “I want this class to be more than a series of lectures on state government. I want to lead a dialogue about how we improve New Mexico’s schools, create high-wage jobs, take drunk drivers off the street and expand access to high-quality health care. It is important for students to understand that state government impacts their lives. I hope to bring more young people into public service.”

OK, so it sounds like there will be a bit of campaigning thrown in with the curriculum. Students interested in taking the course should contact the UNM Honors Program at 277-4211. Students not interested in taking the course should take it anyway. It's being taught by the governor, for cryin out loud!

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