A Deeper Dive into “Why We Teach”

After spending about 6,000 miles on the road, visiting a dozen states (and the District of Columbia), preaching three sermons, and reading through thousands of documents in dozens of boxes of Charles Lindbergh papers, I’m finally back in Minnesota. We’re only about a month away from the start of fall classes at Bethel, so I’ll need to get to work writing syllabi pretty soon. But I also hope to have more time for blogging after taking off most of July.

Sam Mulberry teaching
Sam Mulberry – Bethel University

Let me start by following up on one of my favorite things from last spring: the debut of my friend Sam Mulberry’s documentary film, Why We Teach.

Drawing on extensive interviews with fifteen winners of Bethel’s faculty excellent award for teaching, Sam’s film left me (so I said in May) “deeply moved… because, coming at the end of a year of financial and existential crisis at Bethel and many other universities like it, this film communicated so clearly the fragile importance of what we do.”

Over the summer, Sam has released audio versions of those interviews via his Live from AC 2nd Podbean channel. So far we’ve heard from physicist Dick Peterson, psychologists Kathy Nevins and Carole Young, mathematician Patrice Conrath, English professors Dan Ritchie and Marion Larson, and Leta Frazier of our Communication Studies department. Then my turn came earlier today.

Better yet, Sam earlier talked about the film with our colleague Chris Moore, an international relations expert who will no doubt receive that same teaching award in the next few years.

As much as I’d join Chris in recommending Sam’s film to professors and teachers far beyond Bethel, I’d encourage those same people to listen to this podcast. It’s a fascinating conversation by two people who are both gifted teachers and experienced podcasters. (Not to mention fellow sports fans.) I came away from those fifty minutes not only understanding the structure and nuances of Sam’s film better, but thinking anew about everything from the social stratification of the liberal arts to the limitations of assessment. They even talked about the digital humanities, with Sam describing his film (and these podcasts, for that matter) as exemplifying DH’s commitment to telling stories in new, more accessible ways.

Check it out!