Professor rattles student brains with unique approach to teaching
May 22, 2008 10:55 AM
Saul Steier’s goal as an educator is to "rattle his students’ cages." Severely rattle them, in fact, at least three times during each class period.
He is not only a sought-after professor of culture, but also the chair of the Humanities department—much to his own surprise.
After teaching at University of California, San Diego for seven years, and eventually being fired, Steier was looking for a new place to spread his love and knowledge of culture.
“I basically don’t censor myself,” he explains. “I don’t censor myself in the academic senate meetings, I don’t censor myself in the classroom. If I have an idea that’s not the kind of idea a professor should have, it doesn’t matter, I say it anyway.”
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He jumped at the opportunity to fill an open spot at San Francisco State University when a rainstorm took the life of another SF State Humanities professor. And though he realized there were more famous people applying for the job, Steier’s interview went well, he got the job and moved to San Francisco the following fall.
Steier easily admits that he did not come from a university environment. In fact, he is one of the few in his family who is educated passed the fifth grade. Because of this, he tries to bring aspects of the world from which he came, to the academic world.
He sometimes uses profanity in the classroom to acknowledge the language of the streets. He comes to class each day unsure of exactly what he will say to keep his lectures natural and surprising. He speaks what’s on his mind even if it may offend some people.
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