During my time at George Mason University, I had a professor who took us for terrorism history who really inspired me greatly. His name was James Feldkamp and now that I am looking to become a professor myself, or at least starting out with that goal in mind, I have realized just how great he is at what he does. Jim Feldkamp was someone who many of my fellow students loved and he was someone who took the topic of terrorism history and used it to make us all think very deeply about what was going on in the world. It was his attributes and characteristics that made him has inspirational to me as he was, and these are the key reasons why he is loved by so many.
As any student will know, there are some professors who stick to the same formula for every single lesson, and you know exactly what you are going to get when you arrive in the lecture hall. This was the case with Jim, he would always look to switch it up in order to both keep us on our toes and keep the learning interesting. From one day to the next we never knew whether the class would be interactive, fun or intense, and this is why so many looked forward to their time with him.
The key difference which you’ll notice between high school teachers and college professors is that high school teachers are way more approachable than professors. In fact, there are some professors who I had who would literally teach the class, send the odd email and that would be it, they would ignore emails and never bother to talk. James Feldkamp was completely different, he was empathetic, he would listen to any issues which you had and he would make the time for you if you needed it.
Raising the Standard
Another common practice which you see from professors is that they are really only teaching those who they believe to have a chance in their class, often ignoring those who are maybe a little behind. With James this couldn’t have been farther from reality, he was the type of professor who wanted to try and get everyone on the same level, and he would often target debates and discussions at those with a lower level, not to embarrass, but to educate.
James Feldkamp was able to strike the perfect balance between friendly and stern and everyone knew exactly where they were with him. Of course, you could have a chat about the sports at the weekend, or what you got up to, but you knew very well when it was time to get serious and get your head down. This balance meant that more people wanted to not just go to his class, but work hard in his class too. A hard balance to strike but one which he found very easy.
A great professor and someone who I aspire to be like.