No Hiding from Professor Rita Smith

No Hiding from Professor Rita Smith

‘She challenged us to think critically and find solutions.’

by Greg Cunningham

There was no place to hide in Professor Rita Smith’s class.  No matter where I sat, no matter how much I dodged eye contact, she would find me.  And not just me– she would find us all.  She had told us on the first day of class that asking us questions would be far more important than giving us answers. Fair warning.

This was the routine each week in our course “Common Ground: Followers and Leaders.”  The  course challenged our preconceived notions in an ever-changing world.  Using the Boston busing crisis of the 1970’s and  J. Anthony Lukas’s book Common Ground as a foundation, the course challenged us to think critically and find solutions that were overlooked or underutilized to solve both racial and educational issues.

Rita was vibrant in the classroom. She  never stopped moving.  Her rapid-fire questions at the start of each class used a random method to call on students, which not only kept us on our toes but ensured that everyone participated.  She embodied a point she makes on JFY’s February podcast in  a story about a lesson a student taught her during her first year of teaching: “It isn’t about the answers, because answers change.  It’s the questions that are more important.”

The content of the course was essential: the history and current state of racial issues in Boston.  Rita challenged our interpretations of the book,  navigated our opinions, and expanded our beliefs. Never the center of attention, she put the spotlight on us, both collectively and individually. 

This month, JFY is finally able to turn the spotlight around to feature the elusive Professor Rita Smith and her long and active career in education.  Her pedagogy is revealed through her vivid storytelling, recalling memories and recounting events from more than forty years of fully engaged experience.

 JFY’s monthly podcasts can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and wherever podcasts are found.  You can also find them on our website.

Greg Cunningham is a JFYNetWorks learning specialist. 

Other posts authored by Greg can be found here.

HOW ARE WE DOING? In our pursuit to serve up content that matters to you, we ask that you take a couple of minutes to let us know how we’re doing? Please click here to be navigated to our JFYNet Satisfaction Survey. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Posts

BLOG POST Categories