Student’s Choice: Lakehead’s Favourite Professors

 

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Dr. Patrick Cain, Political Science
By Leah Ching, Editor-in-Chief

 

When you’re taking a class with Dr. Cain, you listen to him speak and you know that you’re in the presence of someone incredibly smart. There are few people that can explain incredibly complex nitions as clearly as he can. One student even said, “he can convince you the sky is red within an hour.” He exposes his students to political philosophy and material that is very engaging and also very challenging. He challenges his students to really think about the material they’re engaged with, and after a class with him, you definitely come out a better student.

 

What is your favourite thing about being an educator?

If I really had to pick, I guess my favorite thing is seeing students make the transition from listening to what I have to say about an idea, or a text, or about a political problem, and begin to think about those things for themselves on their own terms. Seeing students begin to read on their own, think for themselves, develop ideas, and argue for themselves, it’s very rewarding. Over the four years, that’s my goal for students. To get them from first year, when they’re sitting down writing down my ideas and the ideas of other people, and leaving here in fourth year, able to read something, think about it independently, discuss it, and come to an understanding that’s their own.

 

What do you think is unique about your teaching style?

Each teaching style is unique. My style is pretty conversational and I prepare a lot in advance before teaching, but I don’t give myself a detailed roadmap of where I’ll go. What I’ll do is I’ll respond to what students’ interests are, I’ll take questions, and encourage lots of interactions. The idea is that we go where the class is interested in going. If there’s an avenue we happen to go down, it usually that connects back to what the plan was in some larger way anyways.

 

What have you learned from your students?

I hope I learn something from my students every single class. Sometimes I’m not really sure what it is immediately, but when I think about it driving home or sitting in my office, I can usually reflect on what students have said, and it gives me an opportunity to realize what I’ve missed, what’s resonated with students, and it allows me to come back and do a better job.

 

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Dr. Monica Flegel
By Ryley Fingler, Copy Editor

 

What is your favourite thing about being an educator?

Definitely the students, I would have to say. I like Lakehead students. I find them generous, I find them funny, and I find them eager to be educated in a way that I haven’t seen at other universities. I think particularly because we have a lot of students here who are first generation university students, and because I was a first generation student myself, I love having those students in my classes.

 

What do you think is unique about your teaching style?

I have a sort of casual atmosphere with a scholarly rigor. I like to combine them. I think that it’s not necessarily the formality that makes university intellectual – I think that you can have a casual, fun atmosphere while still engaging in difficult and deep intellectual questions.

 

What have you learned from your students?

Lots! I’ve learned tons from my students. Especially in pop culture, I have to say that students keep you young to a certain extent; they keep you in touch with pop culture in a way that you start to lose touch with it as you get older, so students have always kept me up to date with pop culture. But they also teach you your limitations as a teacher in the sense that…you are not entirely in control of the classroom. They bring their own perspectives, their own needs, their own demands, and so they have a lot of control over the classroom too. I respect that.

 

 

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Dr. Steve Jobbitt, History

By Leah Ching, Editor-in-Chief
It’s no doubt that if you’re a student in the humanities, you’ve probably heard about Dr. J from one of the many students that love him. Saying that Dr. Jobbitt is a phenomenal professor (and a bit of a revolutionary) is an understatement. After leaving Western University and hesitantly enrolling in Lakehead, I walked into “History 1000: The Making of the Modern World” on the first day of school. After an hour and a half of listening to Dr. J lecture, I knew I had made the right choice. Not only is Dr. J incredibly smart, but he delivers his classes in ways that are incredibly in touch with the real world, relevant and relatable. There are few professors that are as politically engaged, down-to-earth, genuine, and humble as Doctor Jobbitt. His classes are not only entertaining and highly relevant, but as one student said on ratemyprofessors.com. “Caring, inspirational, amazing lectures. He teaches you what you need to know about life, not just what you need to get through the class.” Doctor Jobbitt is by far a favourite professor for many, and with good reason.

 

What is your favourite thing about being an educator?

It’s going to sound really cliche, but I love working alongside students. I like the challenge of it, and I like that my students challenge me too.

 

What do you think is unique about your teaching style?

I’m not sure what’s unique about it anymore, because I don’t have anything to compare it with! It becomes so organic and part of who I am. In terms of being unique, I try to teach my class as much as a discussion as possible, as a dialogue. I’ve always wanted to be an educator ever since I was young; I’ve always really liked school. I know I’ve been making mental notes about the teachers that have inspired me the most, and I try to be like them.

 

What have you learned from your students?

The most important thing I’ve learned is to listen. I really learned that first when I was working as a professor in California. I realized that they were living a completely different reality than me, and had completely different experiences. I didn’t understand my own position until I listened to them. As a historian, as an academic, and as a scholar who tries to be politically engaged, how can you be engaged with the reality that you live in without listening to people who are living a different reality than you because of their age and because of their generational experience? My students constantly challenge me. And, well, my students challenge me in my own assumptions, and they show me my blind spots.

 

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Professor Yuri Forbes-Petrovich, Philosophy

By Brady Coyle, Staff Writer

 

After a long day of classes, work, and socializing, is a three-hour philosophy lecture at seven in the evening really what you want? Probably not, and who can blame you? But one step inside Professor Yuri Forbes-Petrovich’s philosophy class and the fatigue disappears. The high level of energy that Professor Yuri brings to his lectures, does not allow you to be anything but engaged.

 

What is your favorite thing about being an educator?

What I love most about being an educator…is that I still get excited about a lot of this material. I’m currently instructing four courses at Lakehead University, ranging from first year to third year level. I believe that by making material relatable and bringing a high level of enthusiasm to the classroom, students will feel more of a desire to learn.

What do you think is unique about your teaching style?

Seeing students actually think their teeth into a topic and get involved on their own merits and their own energies is exciting for me. That’s what got me into education; that passion for different topics. On top of teaching at LU, I’m currently taking my PhD at Western University, which I believe only gives me an advantage when at the front of the classroom. I think what makes me an effective educator is I am willing to talk about a lot of these [philosophy] issues on a level that students are interested with. Teaching at a university level, while being a student is useful. Having access to both the world of teaching while going through the challenges of a doctorate, allows one to empathize with the challenges of student life.

 

What is something you’ve learned from your students?

Knowing things is useless; it counts for absolutely nothing, unless you are able to explain it effectively. That ability to communicate effectively is something I have really learned from my students.

 

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Kathy Sanderson, Business
By Julia DiPaolo, Design and Layout Editor
What is your favourite thing about being an educator?

Hearing the student perspectives about theory and to see theory translating into their individual work experience. In most organizational behaviour and human resources courses, we talk a lot about how we would use these theories in the workplace. I get to hear examples of best case and worst case of what it has been like for the students.

 

What do you think is unique about your teaching style?

My teaching style is very participative – most of the time spent in class is having discussions or working on case examples from real life business situations.

 

Whats something youve learned from your students?

The biggest thing I’ve learnt from my students is that the stereotypes about millennials are all incorrect. I see my student being very serious, very committed to their studies, being hard workers.

 

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Dr. Susan Sajna, Psychology

By Ashley Aalto, Staff Writer

 

Susan Sajna is a top Psychology professor at Lakehead University as well as a favourite professor among students. She is well-known for her teaching efforts, as she has won many awards, including two-time Lakehead University Lecturer of the Year, two-time winner of the Lakehead University Contribution to Teaching Award, and a nomination for TVO’s Instructor of the Year Award. She is also known for converting many students to Psychology majors, just based on her lectures alone. To find out what makes her a favourite lecturer among students, The Argus asked Dr. Sajna about her teaching style and what makes her different from other educators.

 

What is your favourite thing about being an educator?

Oh my goodness. I think my very favourite thing would have to be when I’m teaching something a little tricky or difficult, and I explained it enough times and in enough ways that someone gets it and I can see it in their eyes. Its super rewarding and it never stops being rewarding.

 

What do you think is unique about your teaching style?

I think my student might agree that it’s rather personable, lots of sharing examples from my own life and encouraging others to do so and I find that you don’t get that in other classes. It makes things not as stigmatized and in smaller classes it helps people to open up and share too, and that makes it special. I try to inject some humor too so things aren’t so heavy. I even tried to do that in statistics when I taught it. It’s a little harder to do in humor in stats, but it’s still possible! I also try to encourage input from my students. If there’s an item on an exam that was crappy, I want to know why. It’s always a learning experience for me, and I love what I do.

 

What have you learned from your students?
Everything. Every year I learn things from my students. Most of all, being with my students every year has kept me in touch with when I was a student. I haven’t forgotten that, and that’s why I have empathy for what is going on. I also realize that it is a lot harder now than when I was a student because of tuition, having work, and all of these other types of pressure. But overall, you guys keep me young!

 

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Dr. Zubairu Wai, Political Science
By Leah Ching, Editor-in-Chief

 

Dr. Wai is an amazing professor who teaches in a very real, honest, and interesting way. He is a brilliant academic who exposes his students to readings and lectures that will go beyond teaching course content, but will challenge their ideas, expectations and biases. He is very energetic and engaged with what he teaches, and looks at politics in ways that are very applicable in the real world. Dr. Wai is a very intelligent professor for whom his students have the utmost respect for.  Prepare for a challenge, but know that every minute you spend in his courses are absolutely worth it.

 

What is your favourite thing about being an educator?

As a professor, you get the opportunity to meet a variety of people and hear their stories. No two stories are the same. You are able to meet someone, and watch them become grounded in their studies. So somebody you meet in first year that comes to the class and is unsure of themselves and doubtful in their ability, by the time they leave in fourth year, they are able to debate and hold their own. There’s nothing more rewarding than that. So, to answer a very difficult question: getting to meet such a variety of students. Everyone has their own stories and they’re all interesting. It’s very rewarding, knowing the range of people that exist and the range of experiences they have, and then watching them grow into themselves.

 

What do you think is unique about your teaching style?

I approach teaching as a learning experience. I never go to class with the idea that I am the expert and that I know everything, I’ve said that many times. Every student has their own ideas and perspectives and I enjoy seeing those come out in the classroom. It’s always a learning process for me, learning from my experiences and sometimes there are moments that are very teachable for me.

 

What have you learned from your students?

Well, one thing I truly believe is that everybody has a story, and if you just stop yourself and listen, you realize you have a lot to learn. I look at my students who are now in graduate school, or law school, and realize that they each have their own unique story and that their own experiences really enrich that story, and their journey. I consider myself a student of my students, and I learn a lot from them. Sometimes, it’s very humbling to listen to other people’s stories and hear about the struggles they’ve overcome. Hearing from students, learning from them, and being exposed to such a wide range of voices, it’s very rewarding.

 

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