Self-identified as “the bald one,” faculty member Robert Valentine combines jokes and journalism in a unique teaching style that makes him one of a kind.
“I’m the bald one,” Valentine joked. “That is how I would describe myself to a stranger. I am acutely aware of my absence of hair.”
Valentine has been a Murray State faculty member on and off since 1974 and teaches primarily in the department of journalism and mass communications. Valentine said his classes primarily revolve around mass communications, and more specifically, advertising.
“The thing my students need to know is that funny doesn’t mean easy,” Valentine said. “Just because we are having a good time in class does not take away at all from the learning that is taking place. I have had some students who will complain later that the tests were too hard after weeks of fun classes, but we are still a classroom, and the primary focus is the class that is taking place.”
Valentine said that he does not believe himself to be vastly different than any other professors, commenting that those in the classroom are some of the funniest people he knows. Valentine said he does not find that the difficulty of his class sways one way or the other, either, as his class is less tough than some but more rigorous than others, putting his class difficulty right in the middle.
“(Valentine) keeps his classes interesting and fun,” said Kathryn Reinhardt, senior from St. Louis. “I’ve taken five of his classes and even though the classes are fun, he’s also very on-point and makes sure to get his classroom goals accomplished.”
Reinhardt said she has enjoyed all of Valentine’s classes because he does his best to make classes a good time as well as a learning time.
“His personal humor reminds all of the students in his classes that professors are people too,” Reinhardt said. “He also shows us that even if you are very success-oriented you can still have fun.”
Humor is a tool in Valentine’s classroom as he uses his jokes and stories to help get the message across and assist in student learning.
“Sometimes I’ll see a student at a homecoming 10 years later and they will remember some story or other that I had told in class,” Valentine said. “They may not always remember all of the lesson that came with it, but they remember the funny parts and pieces of what they learned that have stuck with them through that story.”
Valentine said that much of his teaching philosophy comes from a famous quote that sums up what he attempts to accomplish in his classroom.
Valentine said, “It is a quote by Thomas Edison in his critique of the school systems that says ‘learning isn’t easy, it’s hard work. With effort however, hard work can be made interesting work.’”
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Story by Shannon MacAllister, Assistant Features Editor.