|Centre professors bring teaching home
RELEASED: Dec. 31, 2003
DANVILLE, KYSeated at Professor Beau Weston's dinner table one night during finals week were Weston, his wife, the Weston's three children
and three Centre students.
Sound unusual? Well, not at Centre College where faculty and students are known to crack the books while breaking bread together.
Most Centre students can expect an invitation to visit a professor at home. Students may have a class discussion, a home-cooked meal or a take part in a game of charades during a visitor possibly all three at once.
"In high school, you never really get the chance to see teachers outside of class, so I was very interested in how these people, who were so important to my education, lived outside of class," said Paul Jolly, a senior anthropology/sociology major from Louisville, Ky.
Topics tend to become more friend- and family-oriented at a professor's home. At the Weston's dinner table, discussions varied from the Weston's household life to class subjects to study-abroad memories while everyone enjoyed Professor Weston's famous homemade pizza.
"Once you develop that personal relationship, you don't always talk about academic things," said Kevin Jones, a senior double major in anthropology/sociology and music from Mt. Washington, Ky. "But any conversation can turn academic."
Jolly added, "It's made my professors seem much more human and much more accessible. That made it easier to talk with them, which has facilitated the learning process for me a great deal."
Weston, associate professor of sociology, agreed that his home meetings with the students enhance their learning experience as well as his capabilities as a professor.
"When students get to know me and my family outside of class, it makes us more relaxed and friendly with one another," he said. "I can better talk to them about their lives when they know more about my life. I like to meet with students at my house outside of class to talk about papers and their work in general, to talk more comfortably and at greater length. Also, my kids are funny, and that breaks the ice sometimes."
Not only do home visits promote learning, they also help the students develop important social skills.
"Getting to know my professors on a personal basis has been a huge lesson in confidence and how to conduct myself in social situations with people other than my family and my peers," said Amy Sibley, a senior anthropology/sociology major from Paducah, Ky.
Weston also gathers student opinions and suggestions for his classes in these informal sessions.
"When I get to know students well, I often ask them to help me plan courses and special projectsto take a look at a book I'm considering, to give me feedback on a potential assignment, to help me check out potential field trips," he said.
This is all a part of Centre's personal touch in which professors inspire students to reach their highest potential. At the same time, however, students can feel free to reach for a piece of Weston's homemade pizza.
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