My graduate students know that I like using analogies to describe complex engineering principles, so I will do so here to describe my teaching philosophy as that of training a cook to become an Iron Chef. If you are not familiar with the original Iron Chef series, the 1980’s Japanese TV show pitted true masters of cuisine and food design against successful restaurant chefs. The two chefs dual, with help from two sous chefs on each team.
I have very strong memories of my years as a doctoral student. I began my doctoral program after 12 years of successful public school teaching. I knew I wanted to work with future teachers, and I knew that a doctorate was required to do that. Beyond that, I knew almost nothing about what I had signed up to do. Throughout my doctoral program, I often questioned whether I was really qualified to be a doctoral student, because it seemed to me that some of the faculty implied that I did not measure up.
On a sunny day in early June 1976 in Norman, Oklahoma, a 25-year-old American Indian walked from the Memorial Union in the middle of campus with three fresh copies of his completed master’s thesis under his arm. Checking his watch, just after 1:00, he headed to Bizzell Memorial Library. As he looked up, the toughest professor in the history department at the University of Oklahoma was approaching from the other end of the sidewalk. I honestly thought about jumping over the green hedge bordering the sidewalk just to avoid Dr. Morgan.