The Colgate Scene
July 2008


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I drew great inspiration and pleasure from reading Professor Balmuth's articulate response to the question, "Why I teach" (Scene, March 2008). As an 11th-grade history teacher in Westchester County, I found Balmuth's ruminations to be applicable to the daily travails in the high school classroom. I shared Balmuth's response with my students so as to emphasize his central belief that in the classroom, "there are deep and wonderful things to be thought about and learned, and life-enhancing skills to be mastered." In a school culture that stresses quantifiable results and perpetuates the competitive admission process, it is essential for students to remove themselves from the numbers game and think critically about the qualitative results of their learning.

Balmuth's teaching acumen is further demonstrated in his insistence that the "classroom functions properly when it is less a demonstration of the teacher's knowledge than the occasion for provoking the student's learning." This tenet was a hallmark of my education at Colgate, as I found an extreme willingness on my professors' part to engage their students, rather than chronically pontificate. This central belief of effective teaching resonated with my students and empowered them to embrace their role as active learners.

I had the distinct pleasure of sitting in on several of Professor Balmuth's Philosophy of Law classes. His passion for learning, and insistence on high-level thinking and analysis, stuck with me and has informed my own teaching style as I continue to evolve as a "determined citizen of the intellectual world."

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