There has been a lot in the news lately about difficulties connected with the administration of Pima Community College. I do not know much about the issues involved, but what I do know is that teaching at Pima is a very stimulating and enriching experience.
The administration and faculty colleagues, as well as the student body, are creative, helpful and enthusiastic about Pima’s place in the Tucson community.
I spent 50 years as a college professor. I tried twice to retire, but failed both times.
Shortly after moving to Tucson I signed up to teach as an adjunct at Pima, and I have been doing so for the past 15 years. I have taught courses at each of the five campuses in the fields of philosophy, religion and humanities.
I currently teach almost exclusively at East Campus, and regularly teach a course on the philosophy of religion and one called Intercultural Perspectives.
In the philosophy class, we take up such issues as the nature of religious experience, the existence of God, the problem of evil and the relationship between faith and reason.
Each topic leads to many deep and sometimes rousing discussions.
In the Intercultural Perspectives course, we consider five minority ethnic groups that help make up the cultural diversity of America.
By reading short stories, viewing films and talking with guests, we learn about the cultures of Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans and Muslim Americans. Obviously there is much to explore and discover.
The main things I myself learn from teaching stem from the incredible variety of students and the depth of the difficulties many of them face.
Of course we have a good number of so-called “regular” college students. However, the bulk of my students could be considered “nontraditional” for a wide range of reasons.
Some are clearly not academically ready for college because the high schools they come from did not do a good job preparing them. They have not been taught to read and write at a level that would enable them to understand and think critically about college-level issues.
Others have extremely complex lives that require them to work at least part time while carrying a full academic load. They may also have serious family responsibilities, such as infirm relatives or young children to care for. I always have several single mothers in my classes.
Pima really is a “community” college, rather than a standard university. It serves people from low-income families through inexpensive tuition costs, and provides smaller classes and more flexible course offerings.
There is hardly anyone in Tucson who does not have at least one family member who has benefited from taking courses at Pima.
In addition, we have an increasing number of foreign students from all over the world, especially from Asian and Latin American countries. Although some have language difficulties, the majority are quite intelligent and highly motivated.
All of this diversity creates what I like to call a great “stew pot” for learning. We have a wonderful opportunity to learn from one another.
I count it a great privilege to work with these students, and help them meet the various challenges they face by learning from their experiences. In the classroom, we strive to create a community conducive to interactive education and mutual growth.
Filed Under: Opinion
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