The Epistle of Q — Chapter 164

Gratefulness at a time to catch up

March was a busy month it seems, so I now have some catching up to do.

But first things first… Never underestimate the on-going value of student/learner connections. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to meet many, many superb students. And within that multitudinous cohort of humanity some have stay connected (albeit intermittently in many cases) to this day. One actually goes back to my first teaching gig following my student teaching practicum while I was still a student at the UofA (1967). Another to my second teaching task in another Junior High in Penticton (1975). More, of course, have been due to my somewhat frequent sortie into college classrooms, especially once I completed my doctorate (and began teaching occasionally at the University of Saskatchewan). In fact I have been communicated periodically by students from CBU, SFU, UstP & UofS, and interacted in surprising moments with former learners at UVIC, UofR, Queen’s & UofC.

I say this in part as a head’s up to anyone planning on going into teaching at whatever level. Don’t be surprised if a former student turns out to be a gem, continuing to sparkle long after the learning moment has concluded.

Yesterday I was reminded of this once again. In the last few years my teaching gigs have slowly diminished (too old, too male, too white) so that only CUE (Concordia University of Edmonton) and UofA (U of Alberta) continue to offer contracts (when not derailed by Covid-19). Nevertheless, particularly at CUE, I have met many really incredible students. Some have kept in touch because they desire/need a professional reference. Some are looking for advice re graduate schools. Others have become participants in my teaching, particularly as external judges for the Final Debates that make up a significant portion of my assessment process in my Environmental Health Ethics course (ENVH 523).

One of my former judges, a young Environmental Health Officer (EHO), who was responding to an invitation to serve in a different judging role this year, mentioned as an aside a docu-drama that she had seen on Netflix. She felt it could be beneficial for me to see it, in part to assess its value in my ENVH 523 course as a parallel to my use of Erin Brockovich. The film is titled Dark Waters and it is about a young lawyer, who after being made partner at a major law firm becomes embroiled in a case against DuPont.

I’m not going to say any more except Watch it… it is almost scary. And yes, I am now trying to determine how I will incorporate it into my 2022 course. And yes, I am very grateful this former student tipped me off to its presence on Netflix. And yes, I will be watching it again very soon.

This reminded me of one of the reasons I enjoy teaching – you oft-times learn more from your students than they probably do from you!!

as always,