By Michael Simon
Taken from the November, 2006 issue of “Senior College News,”
published by the Senior College at the University of Maine Hutchinson
Center in Belfast. Reprinted here with permission.
People speak of Senior College benefiting students; the gain of for
teachers is rarely mentioned. But teachers at Senior College profit
as much as their students do. I am speaking from the vantage point of
a retired college professor who loved the classroom but also loves retirement.
For thirty years I stood before classes conveying my view on art and
history. It was a heady experience. My students joined in my excitement.
My task was to show art and its history in a larger context of human
experience. Heady indeed.
With my retirement eight years ago, my identity as a professor disappeared.
When I joined the Senior College faculty, I saw it as a place where
I might reconstruct the good aspects of being a faculty member without
the negative corollaries. I had the best of both worlds: I could speak
of my idea through history without the administrative tasks, reading
papers, and giving grades that come with the job of a faculty member.
In an undergraduate setting, students are young and intellectually
inexperienced. The thoughts of my contemporaries often prove more exciting
than those of eighteen-year-olds. Senior College students are well prepared
and participate with greater ease and deeper knowledge than young people.
This autumn I have been team-teaching a course aimed at illustrating
differences among European nations. A teacher of history has been keeping
me company in this endeavor, an arrangement from which I benefit greatly.
And I trust that I am not alone. All my colleagues on the Senior College
faculty speak of the excitement, of the satisfaction their classes bring.