When God First Conceived of a “Professor,” He had this Man in Mind

By Kate Staub (Colorado)

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Dr. Bauman walked in, a sweater vest and belted up jeans draping his slouched figure. Apparently weary from a day of travel, he was quiet, and no doubt worn from the thought of what awaited him (coaxing out, ambushing, and deconstructing his students’ collective and individual thoughtlessness). He was obviously a teacher; one could see it in his face.

It was as though when God first conceived of a “professor,” he had this man in mind.

He sat down in the center of the spacious living room, looking similar to an owl perched comfortably on a well-positioned branch. After an opening statement about his methods, expectations, and hopes, he began to read aloud to us. He understood the concept of humor being “a sword with a rubber point,” and laced enough joviality into his tale as to make his presented message enticing.  As he read, splinters of his personality began to manifest themselves.

He may have been plain and unassuming at first glance, but under the glasses, greying, and memory lines carved into his face, there was a fire. Not the fire of a candle, somber and sweet; not that of a bonfire, rambunctious and consuming. It was the apparent fire of a watchman’s torch: bright, steady, necessary, and bridled, but mischievous all the same. (All fire has a mischievous nature to it, simply, to different degrees, as with young boys or certain miniature goats.)

But his steadiness, devotion, regulated fire, and occasional eruptions have a purpose.

As classes progressed, we students came to discover first hand that this inner torch detectable in our teacher had a bite to it. It is intriguing, tantalizing even, but not to be played with or taunted, as it is easily goaded into rapid growth. It gives rise to a passionate frustration, to which brief caterwauling, and potentially profanity, are often companions. But his steadiness, devotion, regulated fire, and occasional eruptions have a purpose. Scintillating discussion, guided by compelling and Socratic inquiries, is his tool, and he manipulates said tool with deft expertise, digging out our misperceptions and carving a wonder and appreciation for clarity, brevity, and truth into our minds.

No garden can flourish if it is not rigorously weeded.

He continues to push us, this man, not only to our intellectual limits but to our emotional precipices. Here to make us shrewd, informed, and confident, he employs techniques which make us look ourselves in the eye and come to terms with our ignorance and mental lethargy. He finds out every loophole, every weak link, and reprimands it in a thoroughly humbling manner. No garden can flourish if it is not rigorously weeded.

But, was it not for one-on-one conversations with Dr. Bauman, we students would be quite at a loss as to what it is he actually believes. In the classroom, he chastises one’s mind; in person, he softly and candidly guides it. Although he is impatient and abrasive, he is wise, sincere, humorous, and wholesome. He seems to truly desire the progress and success of his students and will settle for nothing less.