Jason Schafer's Learning Story


My first year in college was at a community college. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life at the time. So, I started by taking my general education requirements. One of the classes I took during my second semester was an introductory philosophy class taught by Mr. B. Going into this class I had no idea what to expect or what philosophy even was. What I left with was a basic understanding of philosophy and the idea that teaching could be a lot of fun. Mr. B was unlike any teacher I had ever had. He was lively and energetic. He encouraged wild behavior, shouting, and talking to your neighbor. If an outsider briefly poked their head in during a class, they would probably be shocked by what they saw. However, the madness that ensued was actually quite structured and Mr. B was in complete control the whole time. Class would begin each day with a quiz. The quiz questions came from our textbook readings that were assigned for homework the previous class meeting. The number of pages the quiz covered depended on how loud and energetic we were during the previous class. Mr. B would start us out each day with 10 pages of reading homework. He would add or subtract pages during class based on our performance. When he subtracted a page, the class had to clap their hands and shout, ‘Oh, yeah!’ When he added a page, the class had to shrug their shoulders and let out a mighty groan. This strategy was very effective because it kept the class focused on the day’s lesson and kept everyone actively participating. Participating involved teaching one of your neighbors what Mr. B had taught in the previous five minutes of lecturing. When teaching your neighbor, you had to use the appropriate hand gestures that accompanied the verbal content he taught. For example, when teaching your neighbor about the philosopher Thales, you had to move your hand like an ocean wave because Thales believed that all was water. This strategy was very effective for remembering what each philopspher believed. During quizzes, midterms, and final exams, you could look around the room and see students making hand motions to jog their memory to get the correct answers. Along with making hand gestures you had to teach your neighbor with great enthusiasm. Failure to use hand gestures and enthusiasm would result in an extra page of homework for the whole class. These strategies, along with many others had a great effect on me. They inspired me to become a teacher and taught me ways to teach that are outside of the box. I use Mr. B’s strategies today on a daily basis with my first graders.