Learning from Each Other

It was nice to read in the September 2014 issue of Reed that Reed ranked #1 for best professors in the nation. The recent President Diver, the new President Kroger, the faculty themselves, and many others, have done a fine job.  

In the late 1960s, when I earned a degree in Physics, it was a little different. The environment was sink-or-swim, unfortunately matched with some dull profs. In the big freshman Math lectures, half the class simply stopped showing up after a few weeks. My personal worst moment was when I made the mistake of knocking on a Math prof’s door, and was then barked at for 3 minutes and dismissed. The guy was around for about forty more years. Yikes. Is tenure is over-rated?

But, there are certainly great professors at Reed now. Prof. Dan Reisberg [psych 1986–] lectured at the Alumni School in 2005, regarding how memory works in the human brain. He was really something. On a brief look-in, even the Physics Department looked like it had risen from the dead.

There was a good article in the New York Times on Dec. 26, 2014: “Colleges Reinvent Classes to Keep More Students in Science.” It describes an interactive way of teaching, and is well worth a read.

For me, the best part about Reed was the students, who were, mostly, fascinating and remarkable: in academics, in the art of life, and in being true to themselves. There was not a general fixation on the pursuit of wealth, fame or glory, but there was one on excellence. It was important to find a rewarding and interesting path in life, maybe an unconventional one. Finally, that Honor Principle was the bedrock of an intellectual honesty that I have done my best to live up to ever since. 

—Will Darken ’70

Edwards, Colorado