"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A quarter century at UCO

Twenty-five years ago, I began my first semester at UCO, recently hired as chair of the Journalism Department.
Twenty-five years ago, the Journalism faculty
Tomorrow I will begin teaching students who, even though now juniors and seniors,  weren't even born then.
One of the classes I teach, "Blogging for Journalists," wasn't even possible then. There was one computer in the entire department and I had to wait a year to get a used one. There were no cell phones, no "Macs," no digital or social media, no real Internet. I taught editing, using pen and paper, and feature writing, among other things. 
Internationally, the Soviet Union was nearing collapse. That spurred all kinds of instability, especially in the Mideast, helping cause the First Iraq war when Iraq invaded Kuwait, which President  Bush, the smart diplomat, left  Saddam in power for stability. Germany was reunified.  Mandela was released from a 27-year prison term.  All of those events continue to affect us today. Look at the news.
Today's freshmen, who I don't teach, were born in 1996, when Bill Clinton was president. They were five years old on 9-11, 2001. That is ancient history.
 As with everybody, I've been through good times and not so good times, successes and failures, more and more wrinkles, changes in beliefs and attitudes and in teaching, toward people, religion, politics, culture, and teaching. If I hadn't changed, grown, I would be dead. And the challenge to me today, as a teacher, is to make sure our students learn how to think for themselves, how to challenge everything, how to adapt to rapid change--and to instill a passion for learning and their work. 
Walk across campus today, and every student has a smart phone in hand, a table or laptop computer, or both. Facebook,  twitter, texting, Instagram, Vine and more dominate. 
Here's a video that I'll show tomorrow, about how the world has changed: "Did you know?" Prepare to be stunned.
When I started, I was about the age of my students' parents. Now, I'm like a grandparent. One student wrote "I wish he were my grandfather." The pressure to be relevant--other than in the music they listen to which is impossible--is continuous, because technology and journalism is changing so fast.
But after a slump in blogging the past couple of weeks, I have to be back at it. Because, back then and now, I believe firmly, "If you're not doing it, how can you teach it?'
If you want to see how I try to keep up, check the first day assignments on the two blogs for my classes, BlogblogUCO, and Clarkinternational.
Twenty-five years...amazing.


  1. It is very interesting and educational post for me as a teacher.Definitely teaching now was completely different from the past century.

  2. You know, the changes have been tremendous and stunning. One has to be on their toes to keep up.