of Dr. Steven L. Berg

Saved by Students

Today I was saved by two students.  Just before my first class began, I discovered that I did not have The Manchurian Candidate at work.  This meant that I had about 10 minutes to come up with a new lesson for the day.  The best I could do was to decide to show My Beautiful Launderette—the film scheduled for next week.  I would also show Schwarzfahrer.  I know enough about these films and the topics of immigration and race relations to teach these films a week early.  But it was not an ideal situation.

When I arrived at class and explained the problem, two of the students said they would do their presentations.  I did not have to teach a lesson at the last minute and we had a wonderful class.

The first presentation concerned the Korean War.  I knew that he was not just giving a war history presentation but that he was focusing on battles.  Initially he was concerned about this approach because he knew that I was not particularly interested in war history; especially when the history focused on battles.  But I assured him that one of the reasons that I liked to have students present is because we get so many different approaches to history.  His job was to do a quality presentation using his interests as the basis for organizing the material; not presenting the type of history that most interests me.

I was prepared for a quality presentation.  However, I was delightfully surprised at how interesting I personally found his work.  I learned a great deal and was absolutely fascinated throughout the entire presentation; fascinated not as a professor who appreciates quality but as an individual who was learning new material in an exciting way.

The other presentation was on the Bolshevik Revolution.  The student who gave this presentation is a communist and his analysis of the capitalist political system was new to many of the students in the class.  He did a great job of helping the class better understand Marx, but also other elements of world history that lead to the 1917 revolution.


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