It was one of the best and most memorable classes I ever took in college. So, of course, I remember Dr. Walker.
What makes a great teacher?
There is a quote attributed to John Wesley:
I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.
It was more like an intellectual riot. I don't care how shy you were, he drew you out. You got involved. You got scorched. As William E. Berrett said of a boyhood teacher:
We could have warmed our hands by the fire of his faith.
It wasn't just his teaching style that engaged you: He was genuinely interested in you as a student, as a person. One little, struggling krill in an ocean of students and unmet potential. He cared.
He still cares. We had a wonderful if short conversation. I mentioned how I still remember him teaching W. B. Yeats' "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" and that "bee-loud glade." It was his passion, his involvement in the words, the words dripping with honey and meaning, words that, 29 years later, I can't erase from my soul.
I wrote a paper in that class on another of Yeats' poems, "Sailing to Byzantium."
That paper was in a portfolio that I used to apply for my first writing job. I got that job. I am still writing, nearly every day. In fact, the job I have now came as a result of my writing several books on the technology that I am using.An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress...
So thank you, Dr. Walker. You have been one of the singing masters of my soul. You've had a lasting impact on my life. And, after nearly five decades of teaching, I am sure, thousands of others.
You just can't forget your greatest teachers. They lend you a piece of themselves and it never leaves you. Dr. Walker, please keep on singing.