Above All Else, It Takes Optimism

Dear Readers,

I enjoyed my break from blogging, but am now eager to come back. While I won’t be posting as often as I used to, I am at least going to commit to one post a week. I couldn’t wait to write this post, as I’m excited for the beginning of the semester next week. Best of luck to all returning and new college students, and to all those going to school to learn and grow. Have a great fall…


Optimism&TeachingYesterday, I attended Stevenson University’s fall faculty/staff meeting. I always get a lot out of those meetings because I inevitably learn something that I didn’t know before I stepped foot into the theater as we march through the day’s agenda.

The key word in that sentence is LEARN.

One must be an optimist to want to learn.

The key word in that sentence is WANT.

Filling one’s head with new information, taking in new techniques or ideas, or formulating one’s own hypotheses and organizing class structures and components are skills that are founded on one principle alone: optimism. One can choose to be optimistic or not…you have to want to be so.

For how can one teach and not be optimistic? If there is no optimism, it’s difficult to be an effective teacher.

In my humble opinion, optimism comes with a caveat: one must like not only to teach, but one must also want to learn along with the students in order to find great satisfaction in the occupation.

For example, just the other day while formulating the syllabus for a new course I’m teaching this fall, Local Travel Writing, I came upon articles written by Andrew McCarthy. Yes, indeed: I am speaking of the very Andrew McCarthy who is the actor famous for such films as “Weekend at Bernie’s,” “Pretty in Pink,” “St. Elmo’s Fire,” and “Less Than Zero.” I was a huge fan of his growing up, and now, many years later, have become a fan in a new way.

You see, he’s an accomplished travel writer.

His article entitled “U.S. Road Trips” got me thinking in ways I had not thought before. In reading his somewhat poetic article, I discovered something not just about him, but also about myself.

I love that word: discovery.

I find that through discovery one can become optimistic. And through optimism one not only teaches, but also learns. I can’t wait to open up discussions in class and hear what students think, how they reacted to reading a piece, and ways in which that particular piece of writing made them look at the world and themselves differently.Teaching

The bottom line is I love to learn. Along with my students, we will be uncovering new readings, perspectives, journeys, trials and tribulations, and new ways of thinking and seeing the world.

I’m highly optimistic that this year’s curriculum will not only (hopefully!) make my students’ lives richer, but I am confident that my own life will be richer for the experience of being with them, as we discover and learn together.


  • Jack Flacco

    I think one never ceases to learn. It’s in our nature to want to understand and master things. I know of an elderly gentleman who learned to play the piano fifteen years ago and he plays incredibly well. He’s 97. So, one never stops learning. I think with learning always comes optimism for the simple fact that learning opens the door to new opportunity.

    Anyway, enough of my philosophy! Great having you back in the blogging world, Stephanie! 🙂

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