Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ken Bain's Visit to Brownsville

Ken Bain, author of What the Best College Teachers Do, use to live in the Lower Rio Grande Valley 25 years ago when he taught at UTPA. So, his trip to spend a day with us at UTB was a very special one for him. He recognized little because when he left UTB/TSC had not been partnered yet and Brownsville was a small, quiet town.

Ok, maybe the image on the left doesn't quite fit the time period, but think about it; 25 years is a long time, especially for a school and town that has grown so big and so fast.

We'll be writing more about the ideas Ken brought up and the reflections and motivation his words inspired, but first we are going to brag a bit here. Ken loved us. Why? Well we did things a bit differently. Rather than large discussions, we had a small, general discussion in the morning for individual faculty. It was a general talk about what makes a great teacher and how he or she promotes deep learning in students.

Over the lunch period, we invited the book club to just sit around, eat, and talk with Ken. Others sneaked in....and I know who they are! The informal discussions were lively, even at the tables where Ken was not.

In the afternoon we had groups from around campus come in and talk to Ken about special projects for some sage advice and consulting. More discussion will come from that.

Ken came back on Saturday and visited with our ARCC program in astrophysics where our undergraduate students are searching for new pulsars. This research contributes to the international effort of scientists attempting to identify what gravity is. (For me the question would be, can we get it to reverse itself when we turn 45? Nip Tuck) This is just one of our students in research programs in the College of Science, Mathematics, and Technology.

Why was Ken impressed with us? Because of the innovative projects we are doing in how we educate and motivate students that have the will but not the preparation and our plans to do more.

After talking with faculty, Ken is going to come back. So all of you that missed him, get ready to sign up! (And, give yourself a pat on the back.)

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