So, yesterday was my first Saturday for the ANTH 372 – Primate Field Studies class that I got invited to and MooSe and I made the mistake of thinking it was the first class. So we showed up at school to an empty classroom. We waited and because it was a Saturday, had to search the campus for someone to try and figure out what was going on. Once we did, we left the campus for the Zoo. As we were driving, the pressure from this kind of mistake was immense, because the majority of professors that I have had present this attitude that mistakes like this would result in being dropped from class in the worst case and being humiliated public in the lesser and potentially both. MooSe made the comment that it was our fault and I agreed. As the panic was mounting, I took a deep breath and it dawned on me: this was Ms. C-D, not those other professors. She didn’t become my favorite professor because simply because she was brilliant in her field, she got that role from who she is and how she displays that to her students. The panic subsided because I knew that it was a legitimate mistake and that she knew how excited we both were for this class and much like the Sign Language Final, I helped MooSe calm down. I explained my thoughts and feelings to him as we arrived at William Land Park.
When we got to the Zoo, we got in line and I then saw the Member’s Only entrance and went to the person in the booth and explained the situation. She let MooSe and I in and we found the class by the primates where they were supposed to be. As we walked up, Ms. C-D saw us, smiled and said loudly “Nice of you two to decide to finally show up. In ASL I explained that we did the retarded thing and went to ARC first only to realize our mistake. She signed back that it was ok and in that instant, I realized that my choice for favorite teacher was not misplaced. It also made me realize that all of those traits that I now strive for that I learned about in the Management Class this time last year, are on display regularly in all their glory in this teacher. If there were more professors in the community college system like this, there would be more students graduating at this level. If we had more teachers like this in High School, especially in subjects like Math and Science, we would have more students interested in those disciplines.
I gave up on Science in 9th grade when the teacher allowed her personal religious bias to say Evolution was just a theory and to tell me that it was different when I mentioned that Gravity was also only a theory along with how we explained that Airplanes fly. I gave up on Anthropology and Primatology when in my senior year, the teacher tried to shame me in to silence, telling me that Koko did not actually talk in sign language and only engaged in mimicry much like a parrot or this horse that could count. He said that Koko keyed off of the body language of her handlers much like your dog does when you give it a command to do tricks. The only problem with this argument at the time, was a video of Koko signing with a deaf person and a video where KoKo is sorting pictures of other primates and animals in to one pile, people in to another. Koko puts a picture of herself in the pile with humans, but places the picture of another gorilla that she has met in the pile with animals. The fact that she could differentiate herself from the other gorilla consistently indicates self awareness which this teacher argued was impossible. My sister Danielle is a teacher, and my ex-wife was a teacher for a while and I have the utmost respect for the profession and the job most teachers try to do. Unfortunately, I think the system often places teachers in the position of teaching subjects they should not be teaching. Only a scientist should teach science classes, just because someone is trained to be a teacher does not prepare them to teach every subject. Professor Chang on Community taught Spanish…..
So, I learned some things yesterday during the class, and as promised, will share them with you. All gorillas lack a tail, most monkeys have a tail. If it as a tail, it has to be a monkey. If it lacks a tail, it is probably a gorilla. Keep up, this is important.