Jonathan Glater '93
Professor of Law, UC-Berkeley School of Law
“The crisis outside of my classes that has stayed with me resulted from the realization that not all professors knew how to teach effectively, and that I and my fellow students were paying the price. I took my concerns to faculty members I trusted; I talked them over with members of the Education Department, who knew more than I about how we learn. I finally wrote up some of my concerns and my proposed solutions and sent them to members of the College administration. We organized a meeting, and I learned how not to run a meeting. We came up with a plan, and I learned that plans require the support of the people critical to implementing them and should begin with easily managed small steps. A smaller group held a less ambitious meeting, and a few faculty members began to consider how certain classes might be taught more effectively.
“It was a frustrating experience at the time, and it provoked a crisis of confidence for me. Not for months afterward, not until I was well into graduate school, did I realize that at most other schools, very few people-even friends but certainly faculty and staff-would have listened to my concerns, tolerated my memos, or considered the ideas I tried to outline in them. The surprise, in retrospect, was not that change was difficult, but that anyone was receptive to it at all.”
This is an excerpt from an essay that appeared in The Meaning of Swarthmore (2004).