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A to B – (A Geographers Journey) Part 3

A – B Part 3

Mrs. Jordan, Mr. Heinze, Mr. McLelland, Mr. Cleve, Mr. Polianato these are some of the teachers I’ve had through grade school and high school that guided me and somehow or another fostered my love of Geography.  I distinctly remember in Mrs. Jordan’s kindergarten class endlessly painting maps with those just add water acrylic paints that came in the shape of a hockey puck. Ahhh… Those were the days.

Mr. Heinze and Mr. McLelland, (grade 5 and 6 respectively), while not exactly geography teachers, were those teachers that, along with teaching the 3 R’s went beyond class curriculum and taught about life. They were no nonsense teachers who told you how it was and had high expectations, which since they were such great teachers all of the students would strive to surpass those expectations.

Mr. Cleve and Mr. Polianato were my high school geography teachers. While I don’t remember much of the curriculum (it was the 80’s after all) I do remember that they were very accessible teachers, always willing to answer questions and provide assistance if you didn’t quite understand. They never gave out free information; it was up to you to be inquisitive. They did their jobs, they did them very well and they gave me the confidence to apply myself to being a geographer (although the fruits of those seeds planted wouldn’t be borne until 22 years later). They were entertaining, treated you like adults and I think of all the teachers I had in high school, in my opinion, they did the most to prepare students for post secondary education (whether they knew it or not I don’t know).

Part two of A Geographers Journey ended with my first term at Brock University being complete. I had survived and I had two half-credits under my belt. Only 29 more credits to go. There wasn’t much time to stop and smell the roses because Brock offered courses during the summer term. Thankfully, one of those offered was the First Year Physical Geography course – 1F91. I would finally have the opportunity to take a geography course! I was stoked!!

The lecture occurred twice a week in the evening from the beginning of May and ended with the exam in mid-July. There was also a Lab once a week. Essentially, it was a full year course condensed into approximately 10 weeks. In hindsight it was a crazy kind of schedule for getting work done but I didn’t really know any better.

May 3, 2005 was the first lecture (I know this because I still have my lecture notes). I didn’t quite know what to expect as I entered the lecture hall a half hour before the scheduled start time. All I really knew was that the professors name was Daryl Dagesse. As I sat, I browsed through the text book (Physical Geography Canadian Edition – Third Edition by Strahler and Strahler). As the start time of the lecture approached the lecture hall began to fill up and I noticed a gentleman approach the front of the hall and begin to tinker with the computer at the podium. As there was still about 15 minutes until the start of the lecture I returned to the text book and continued to browse. Then incredibly, breaking the silence of the hall…. Black Sabbath – War Pigs comes blaring out of the speakers. I looked up in amazement as did all of the other students. What was going on?? We had never experienced this before. We all seemed to look at each other with a combination of confusion, surprise and even relief. The music seemed to break the tension. After the Black Sabbath, Neil Young rang out through the system. From that moment on, although I hadn’t met Professor Dagesse yet, I knew we would get along just fine… That moment of music completely and totally relaxed me.

I had Daryl as a Professor for a number of classes since then including Research Methods in the Geosciences, Introduction to Soil Science and the 3rd Year Physical Geography Field Course which, apart from taking the course, I will be a Teaching Assistant for the fourth time. He is an incredible professor and encapsulates all of the great things I admire about a teacher. He is enthusiastic about Geography. He is incredibly knowledgeable, specifically about the Physiography of Southern Ontario. Each time I TA the field course I learn something new even if we’ve been to a location before. He is completely approachable as witnessed by an open door policy for office hours. He is a no nonsense professor where the onus is on you. If you put in the effort, you attend the lectures and labs and you ask the questions or seek clarification you can do well. He has a great taste in music…

Final grade…. 88 (Why is this important? To me it confirmed that I could do it and it provided me a benchmark to strive for.)

My top three take-aways from my Introduction to Physical Geography course (in no particular order)…

My introduction to Waldo Tobler – “Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related to each other”.

Question everything. Be critical of everything you read, everything you see, everything you hear. Don’t be spoon fed information and accept it at face value. Ask yourself… who is the author, what is their motive, why did they write this, where did the funding come from, where did the article appear? Do not compromise your principles. If you think something is not right, prove/disprove it using the Scientific Method.

“There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

*** DISCLAIMER ***

In my opinion – question “consensus”, “unequivocal” and “settled science” – what is there to gain? And what is there to lose? No matter what your views, even something like the Theory of Relativity is just that… a theory.

2 comments on "A to B – (A Geographers Journey) Part 3"

  1. Avatar Don Wright says:

    Hi Darren,

    You do well to acknowledge the several persons who fuelled your interest in Geography! Far to often, our tendency seems to be that we appropriate ideas and information and readily forget the source once our brain accomadates the new idea(s).

    In particular, it cheers me to note that “established science”…even the Theory of Relativity can afford to be challenged. I agree with that!

    A worthy acknowledgement of those persons who contributed to the fine person you are today!

    don wright (Lochlin, Ontario)

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