Thursday, February 13, 2014

Great Teachers

By Lani Walker

A family member of mine taught a class at SIUC many years ago.  I grew up listening to him speak poorly about his students.  He relished in tricking and failing his students, a strange enjoyment that he would admit to even today.  It was often that my mother, a high school teacher herself, and him would end up arguing during family functions about teaching philosophies.  My mother loved teaching, and it is most definitely a gift she possesses.  She could inspire both the best and worst students I had ever seen.  She often felt as if their successes (and failures) were her own.  Anytime I go out in my hometown, I cannot even begin to tell you how many adults want to take the time to tell me how my mother positively affected their life in high school.  Without any doubt, they would say (and I would say as well) that she is an exceptional teacher. 
                When I go home, it is often that I speak with my parents about my current college professors at SIU.  Overall, the teaching I have witnessed at SIU has been excellent.  Although I have met a few terrible teachers, I know that a few bad raindrops cannot contaminate an entire ocean.  I have met great teachers throughout many departments at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, but the ones I am most familiar with are the teachers in the Architecture department.  They are a diverse group of very interesting and very intelligent professors.  I cannot even choose a favorite professor because I like so many of them and have been inspired by almost all of them. 
The first professor I met at SIU was Professor Dobbins.  From being in his classroom for a few semesters, one thing is apparent to me; he is a great teacher.  It is so obvious that he joys his job, and he always tries to make the subject of structures enjoyable for his students (a VERY difficult task).  He is always fair and respectful to his students.  And no matter how many students complain that his class is ‘too hard,’ he doesn’t make his class any less challenging because he knows that we will rise to the occasion.  Honestly, when you put a lot of time and effort into his class, the final Structures project I produced was something I learned a lot from and could be proud of.  Another teacher who comes to mind immediately when I think of great professors at SIU is Dr. Anz.  Like Professor Dobbins, Professor Anz definitely has a passion for architecture.  Dr. Anz has so much knowledge and insight, yet he somehow manages to be relatable to the students at SIU.  If you ever get stuck in your studio project and need something new and exciting from the world of architecture, Dr. Anz is the person to lead you down that path.  I am so lucky to have taken his class my senior year because it renewed my love of architecture.                   

This semester, in Graduate School, is the first time I have gotten to work with Dr. Wendler in a studio setting.  He is very straightforward and doesn’t attempt to sugar-coat anything, qualities that I definitely value in a teacher.  He is also very creative and has offered so many suggestions that have helped my studio work.  When he speaks, he always reminds me of Walt Disney; charismatic and inspiring, yet definitely wants the job done right.  Dr. Wendler is the leader of our architecture program, and he still takes the time to be our Graduate Studio professor this semester.  Between him and all the other great teachers I have met (and am still meeting new ones everyday), I would recommend SIUC to any architecture student looking for an exceptional architecture program that teaches, challenges, and learns from its students.          

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