University of Calgary

Dropping In

Submitted by alumni on Sat, 04/02/2016 - 22:40.

Dropping In

From bobble-heads, masks and symbolic microphones to topsy-turvy shelves of books — join professor Ron Glasberg in his office. Marie Kondo would not be impressed!
By Mike Fisher

1 Bookworm

“I buy books, everywhere I can. I just keep acquiring them. I’m always looking for something about the big picture. Hard to pick a favourite, but I do like The God Problem by Howard Bloom. He looks at how different axioms have evolved over the scope of the human history. No, I do not have a book on how to unclutter my office.”

2 Award

“I have a teaching excellence award called The President’s Circle. I received it in 2001. It’s a fancy one. I like it because it reflects that the university wanted to emphasize that teaching is appreciated.”

3 Sculpture

“This 2 ft.-tall sculpture came courtesy of the University of Calgary Senate in 2009. It was based on the Lecture of a Lifetime concept. I am posed with my hands out and it looks like I’m in the middle of the lecture. I have this fantasy that when I leave my office it comes to life and does my marking for me. My lecture is on YouTube (it’s TEDxYYC, Dr. Ron Glasberg, Learning for Liberty).”

4 Student Painting

“When I was in high school a math teacher helped me by putting books on my desk that would twig my growth as a person. That’s how I got started. So I tell students how one person can make an incredible difference with just one small gesture. This painting is an expression of appreciation from student to teacher.”

5 Bobble-Head Einstein

“People have stopped me in the street and said I look like Albert Einstein. Though actually, my hair is thinning out, it’s going fast. For some, Einstein represents wisdom. The student who gave this to me was trying to express the fact that, for him, at this point in his life, I was a figure of wisdom for him.”

6 Grandfather Painting

“After my parents died, I found this old painting in their house. It belonged to my grandfather. It shows a monk overlooking the Bay of Naples. It’s a memory from my boyhood in Toronto and it connects me to my roots. I try and relate students to their own history, connect them to their own heritage.”

7 The Microphone

“I did an audio series with a student called Conversations with the Captain. It’s a six-year conversation with my student, Marco Barile (find it at ucalgary.ca/conversationswiththecaptain) about, well, life. It was meaningful for me because it reflects what a teacher and student should be doing, having good conversations.”

8 The Mask

“A student carved the mask for me from a chunk of wood. It reflected what she got out of the course. It was an expression of her inner self at the time, which is ironic, because usually a mask hides. But this is what a classroom is about; students should be their real selves in class. Students should open themselves up.”

9 The Cardboard Swastika Armband

“I sometimes put it on when I am teaching about Hitler. It’s a prop. The students and I engage in a kind of theatrical performance. Hitler is in the room speaking to them, haranguing them perhaps. I am trying to change the rigid structures that stand between students and knowledge.”

10 Wife and Daughter Picture

“My wife is Toby Eines, a lawyer with the City of Calgary. My daughter is Emily, now in Quest University in Squamish, B.C. What’s it like teaching my daughter? [Pause] Impossible.” [Laughs].