Sunday, May 09, 2010

Professor Emeritus

I wanted to title this with the name, which I remember as Dr. Frohlander, but it was before the internet age and when I went to check the spelling (or maybe I had the name wrong-- Frohlings?) I couldn't get the confirmation.

In 1981 or 82, I took an introductory Oceanography class. It was taught by a Professor Emeritus who came out of retirement once each year just to teach this particular undergrad class. What follows is from memory, and I'm sure over the decades it has altered, but I remember his first lecture starting like this:

"The sun rises in the East. It sets in the West. Warm air rises. Cold air falls. Your assignment for tomorrow is to use that information to draw a weather map of the world."

The class started to murmur in protest and several hands went up. Dr. Frohlander slammed his hand down, silencing the room.

"The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Warm air rises, cold air falls. THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO DRAW A BASIC WEATHER MAP.
"Some of you think you are here to be spoonfed facts. Anyone can do that. You are here to learn to think. Part of that is taking what you already know and learning what it means and how to use it."

Most of us got the basic maps right. Might not have been perfect on the latitude where the easterlies ended and the westerlies began... but the concept was close enough.

In my time at college, Dr. Frohlander was the only one who demanded that I think for myself. Some requested it or suggested it. (Some of those then punished the free thought if they disagreed with the conclusions.) But only Dr. Frohlander, an elderly, retired hard scientist demanded it.
I can never thank him enough,.


Tiff said...

Such is our perspective regarding you. :}

Roser said...

Gimme some ol' time professor
Gimme some ol' time professor
Gimme some ol' time professor
Them's the best for me

shugyosha said...

Sorry, that was me. Cookie trouble.

BTW, this post has been 404'd for the last couple of days, even though RSS insisted it was there.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

I suspect if you email the Department secretary she could get you the mans name.

Robert E.

Matt said...

The impact of a teacher when done with thought and wisdom!

James said...

Here's my former Oceanography professor's idea of an extra credit question: California has the BIG ONE and slides into the sea. The resulting Tsunami wipes Hawaii clean of all terrestrial life (x) amount of time later. What is the average depth of the Pacific Ocean?dendbz Turns out you can actually figure that out. I thought he was just joshin'. Bastard.

Irene said...

My favorite college exam question, from a medieval history class (Europe 300-1300 AD):
"Discuss the evolution of the constitutional monarchy."

Theodore Nordsieck said...

You might like My favorite Liar.