The Sciences

The Thrill of the Story

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorDec 8, 2010 4:46 PM

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I've been teaching journalism at NYU since 2005. I'm an adjunct there, and I usually teach one or two courses a year. It's one of the most professionally gratifying things I do. Nothing pleases me more than when a student gets that rush of excitement from a story he or she is working on for class. Of course teaching them the tools of the trade is essential, but above all I want my students to fall in love with journalism. Or at least have an affair with it in my class. So last week, a student said something that was music to my ears:

I hate nature but I love this class

The course I taught this semester was titled, Hidden New York: Where the Wild Things Are. (I was fortunate in that I was allowed to design the theme, which I briefly wrote about here several months ago.) It's an Advanced Reporting class, and most of the students seemed to really enjoy it. It also delights me that a student who otherwise could care less about ecological and sustainability topics actually liked learning about them. I think that's because I had the students immerse themselves in two of their major assignments. And I let them choose what caught their interest. For example, the student who "hates nature" became a "freegan" for two weeks and wrote a hilarious and well-reported story on a fairly new subculture. Another student became a beekeeper. Others took up composting, (all-weather) surfing, birding, among other ventures, to explore facets of nature and sustainability in an urban landscape. Most of them seemed to have a blast. I also had them set up a blog and they did a great job with that, as well. Today's the last day of class, so that means pizza and the obligatory wrap-up of the semester's main take-away lessons. Roughly half of my students are graduating in December, which means the next chapter of their lives is about to begin. Here's hoping they continue to be as adventuresome and open-minded as they were in this class.

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