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March 17, 1988 - Image 43

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

David Grove, the first anthropology
professor to win his school's award for
Liberal Arts and Sciences Excellence
in Teaching, says he learned his craft by
example-bad example. "I had a horrible
teacher who stood in the front of the class
and read his notes, even read his jokes!"
Grove promised himself that when he
taught, it wouldn't be like that. It isn't. At
his class at the University of Illinois in
Urbana-Champaign, he frequently aban-
dons his notes and is constantly in mo-
tion, pacing the aisles, leaning on the
wall, stabbing the screen with a pointer to
emphasize an interesting detail in a slide.
Describing the Mayan temples in an area
of Mexico called Palenque, Grove said,
"When you walk in this area you really
feel like Mr. Indiana Jones, explorer-
even though you can buy Pepsi 100 feet
down the road."
Grove himself has seen his own version
of the Temple of Doom a few times. In
the summer of 1986, for example, he was
in Mexico hunting for an archeological
site when antigovernment rebels grabbed
him. They held him captive for five hours,
while he worried that, being a gringo, he'd
be mistaken for either a drug trafficker or
a narc-equally dangerous possibilities.
In telling such stories, "I try to get
students' attention," he says. "Learning
should be fun."
So in the class there is gossip about fa-
mous explorers' idiosyncrasies and a risque
slide show of 1,000-year-old erotic Mochica
art; in office chats he may offer reviews
of Mexican restaurants. Grove's class on
Mexican prehistory shares an Aztec meal

unrecognized off campus, is the most
* sought-after professor at BU. He is a veter-
an of civil-rights marches and antiwar
demonstrations, and when he teaches, the
'60s live again.
Social progress has come not by passing
laws but from mass protests, Zinn tells his
students. (He backed that up by testifying
in behalf of Abbie Hoffman and Amy Car-
ter last spring at their trial for anti-CIA
demonstrations.) Zinn talks about aboli-
tionist William Lloyd Garrison and anar-
chist Emma Goldman in the same breath
with Abraham Lincoln and John Kenne-
dy. Christopher Columbus may have dis-
covered the New World, Zinn says, but he
also raped it. "I teach about the distinc-
tion between what the Bill of Rights says
people's rights are and what their rights
really are: determined by power, privilege
and wealth," Zinn declares. "I want to
encourage people to think things through
for themselves and not to take the words
of authority-or take my word as author-
ity, either."
So although Zinn may be the professor,
his students do much of the talking. His
course this year has the staid title Introduc-
tion to Political Theory, but there's noth-
ing restrained about the arguing that goes
on as students debate U.S. policy in Nicara-
gua, South Africa and the Mideast. "He's
always made students feel that their ideas
are just as valid as his, whether or not he
agrees with them," says communications
major Fawn Fitter, a senior who took
Zinn's class last spring. "That really im-
presses me."
Zinn has taught overflow classes at

BU since 1964. Although he reciprocates
his students' affection, his relationship
with BU administrators is considerably
cooler. The school's leadership, Zinn
charges, is "undemocratic and authoritar-
ian." He tries to get around the rules,
for example, by encouraging students to
forge his signature on their class sign-up
sheets to save time. Zinn also doesn't
believe in being stingy with high grades,
and he doesn't care if people call his course a
gut. "My belief is that I have to leave it upto
the students to work hard," he says. "I have
to stimulate them, not force them."

Constant motion: Grove and Illini eat grasshoppers and cactus at an Aztec meal

APRIL 1988


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