Prior to the first day of my college news writing course, other professors and upperclassmen warned me that my professor was the harshest in the journalism college. I led on that I wasn’t scared, but deep down, I was terrified. If I didn’t get a high enough grade, I wouldn’t be able to continue on my journalism journey.
The class started with the professor reiterating what everyone already had warned me about. He explained that his class was tough, and only the true writers would succeed. At that point, I had a strong urge to throw in the towel and walk out.
I resisted the urge and stuck it out. After turning in my first assignment and having it read aloud to the class, I wished I would have followed my instincts. It was embarrassing. But at least mine wasn’t the only one he read. The professor read everyone’s assignments aloud and pointed out everything that was wrong. Laughing
The next assignment was the same and so on. I realized that I could continue to be embarrassed when my work was read aloud due to all of the errors, or I could learn the material and produce better work so my stories wouldn’t be laughed at by my peers. Quickly, the quality of my assignments increased. No longer was anyone laughing at my words. The professor was using mine as an example of what to do. I was thrilled.
One day a couple weeks into the course, the professor asked me to stay after class. To my surprise, he asked me if I wanted to change majors from visual journalism to a more writing-based major because my writing was of such high quality. My reply? “I think I’d be too stressed writing stories all the time.”
It’s funny how things work out, isn’t it? Here I am years later writing, editing and designing for a living, and I love it.
I guess some times you have to have a tough teacher to really learn something. Tough love worked for me in this case. As much as I detested that course (and the professor) at the beginning of the semester, I’ve come to cherish that experience—almost a decade later, I still see the value in what that professor taught me.
Not all teachers take this approach, and that’s fine. This issue is full of top educators, and I doubt any of them use this tactic in the classroom.
Until next month,
Kelsey Reinhart, editor