Gudrun Hommel, associate professor of German, shared her experiences teaching an Inquiry Seminar class for the past three years, March 9.
The lecture “Globetrotters, Heirlooms and Heimat: Reflections on Teaching College,” reflected what she has learned from teaching the INQS.
Hommel spoke openly about the challenges and rewards of teaching her class, called “Globetrotters, Heirlooms and Heimat,” that focuses on the way people encounter and interact with other cultures.
“I wanted to reflect on my inquiry about how to teach inquiry,” she said.
Hommel began by holding up a red tapestry. She asked the audience members where they thought the tapestry came from to introduce one of the central themes of the lecture: the exploration of culture and background as a means of exploring oneself.
Students in Hommel’s INQS class must each write a paper about a family heirloom. But instead of writing about the object itself, students must write about the historical and cultural implications the object may have had in the past.
“It’s fascinating to read these papers because I learn so much,” Hommel said.
She alluded to how teaching the class can be just as challenging as being a student in the class in regard to cultural exploration.
“I wasn’t sure what I would encounter in the classroom. I was the foreigner,” she said. “I’m learning. I’m growing as a professor and as a teacher and, hopefully, as a person.”
Sophomore Keevin Craig attended the lecture and said one of Hommel’s most interesting points was the contemplation that she put into creating the subject matter for her course.
“I liked how much thought she put into the class and each individual student,” he said. “It was interesting to hear about her battles with cultural communication and how that shaped the subject matter for the class.”
At the end of her lecture, Hommel described the heirlooms she have possibly picked, mentioning several different items from her own cultural background. However, she ended up picking her foreign language teaching background as her heirloom and will write a paper about it — just like the students in her class.
Sophomore Renae Marble said she appreciated Hommel’s genuine passion for teaching, which she said Hommel communicated throughout the lecture.
“It was cool hearing her talk about how she helps guide her students by letting them discover on their own rather than by telling it to them, which is generally less effective,” Marble said.
Hommel’s lecture is a part of the Linfield faculty series, during which one Linfield faculty member will present on one of their areas of interest each month.
Go to this link: http://www.linfield.edu/calendar/main.php?calendarid=default to find readings between now and The Linfield Review’s next issue.
Brittany Baker/Staff reporter
Brittany Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.