Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

favorite class March 23, 2011

Prompt #72 What was your favorite class when you were in high school or college? Bonus: Was it your favorite class at the time you took it? Why or Why not?

In high school, my favorite classes were any Socials class taught by Mr. Swanzey. He was funny, interesting and challenging. He knew his material and made sure we knew it as well through very dramatic performance style lectures. When I was an exchange student in Finland, the history teacher ‘taught’ by writing down notes on the overhead for the entire class. She asked if I would teach a class on Canadian history one day. I agreed, and in Swanzey style I was a priest throwing inappropriate books into the fire in New France, Macdonald drunk in parliament, Riel challenging the government. At the end of a wide-eyed class she came up to me and asked if I was planning to become a teacher. I said yes, I was. She nodded and said, “Good. You should.” I suspect a lot of teachers were inspired by Dave Swanzey.

(NOTE- SEPT/11- I keep getting visitors to this page who have been searching “Dave Swanzey.”  Please leave your memories in the comments at the bottom of the page.  Bet you a Fudgesicle!)

The only college classes I have a really clear memories of were my first year classes at Okanagan College the year after I came back from Finland. I enjoyed all of them, but my favorite was English with Vincent Oriente. He was an older, dapper gentleman, of the Hercule Poirot variety, and I found him interesting and knowledgeable. Of course, as an English major who loved his subject it wasn’t hard to enjoy a competent teacher. I often wondered what happened to him, as I heard that our class had not given a particularly generous review.

That year I also found Intro to Canadian politics quite fascinating. I memorized terms like ‘pork-barrel” and ‘whip’ and got a better sense of our democratic system. History was interesting, as we explored in depth the development of Canada before and after confederation. I remember my prof as being very knowledgeable, but very gruff and inapproachable. My French prof that year was a little old lady from France. She was tiny and exuded all the stereotypical hauteur. I remember watching her eyes grow confused while I fluently gabbed about something, without acknowledging my error. I’d think back over what I’d said, and realise that I’d injected a word or two of Finnish in a French accent. Not exactly a clear combination!

I fully enjoyed my first year courses. In subsequent years I found myself at University of Alberta learning Music Appreciation, amazed at my husband who needed only a few notes to place time, composition and composer. He kicked my butt in music survey. Somewhere we still have the set of LPs that were the ‘text’ for that course.

As to did I enjoy them at the time? Yes. Most definitely.

PS. I also have very fond memories of Mr. Moore’s Oreo Cookie parties in Creative Writing class! 😉


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