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A CLASSROOM'S TRADITIONAL LANDSCAPE IS FAMILIAR. One desk, front and center. Thirty or so smaller desks lined up facing it. Behind that center desk stands a teacher: a person whose shoulders carry the weight of an hour’s entertainment. A person responsible for filling the minds of those seeking knowledge.

Because teaching is the heart of the university, we asked a few professors to tell us why they do it.

We found what they said inspiring. It teaches us something about each of them and our world — proving that they are indeed masters of their trade.



By Teresa Marrero
Assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures.
Joined North Texas in 1996.

When I was asked to write about why I teach, the answer seemed to be a mystery. But after some serious thought, I found that it is not so much a mystery as it is a fascination: a fascination with the alchemical magic that takes place when things “click.”

It was not always so with me. I ventured out of high school to become a flight attendant. I wanted freedom from the restrictions of a strict Hispanic, Catholic upbringing, and this career choice seemed to do the trick. But, with this one choice, I managed to offend the holy trinity: my mother, my aunt and my godmother.

Nevertheless, I went forth into the clear, blue skies. My fascination with my career choice did not last long.

As it turned out, my fascination with a number of other professional endeavors also flickered out quickly. Thus, I became a returning adult student at California State University in Long Beach. Out of the bravery that ignorance nurtures, during my first semester as an undergraduate, I signed up for a graduate seminar in the Spanish Generation of 1898. I discovered Spanish philosophical thought, and my mind learned to really fly. I was hooked.

After graduating cum laude (and working full time, plus being involved in student politics), I decided to go for it. I would not stop until there were no more degrees to be had. The holy trinity, by now, was on my side.

Once I had my doctorate, I had found a fascination that stuck. It became clear to me that why I love teaching is ultimately related to my insatiable curiosity as a learner.

I teach because I continually want to learn, and the process of learning and teaching is the mysterious phenomenon that feeds my soul.


By Meta Carstarphen
Associate professor of journalism.
Joined North Texas in 1993.

Coming from a family of teachers, teaching was the career I swore I’d never touch. It was too familiar and seemed too static, too mundane.

But the truth is, I have found teaching to be dynamic, unpredictable and sublimely rewarding.

As a journalism professor, I write and I teach. For me, the two are inextricably intertwined. Both are creative enterprises, and if done well, they can leave tangible imprints on tomorrow’s pages.

I teach to share possibilities with students, in order to showcase for them a potential world of their own making.

Yes, in my department, I teach skills for the marketplace, but those are meaningless unless I can also teach the abilities of the mind. I try to teach both, and I see every course before me as an opportunity to marry the prose with the passion of doing journalism well.

This is the best job in the world.


By Milan Reban
Associate professor of political science.
Joined North Texas in 1967.

Living in the very center of Europe (Sobotka, Czechoslovakia) as a child, the whole world held fascination for me. In elementary school, I traveled far and wide — in atlases and books — sailing up the Amazon or to Fiji, hiking in the Himalayas. I wanted to learn about everything.

In that same childhood, I learned firsthand about politics.

The maelstrom of a war ending taught us all that politics mattered. The unending lines of Allied prisoners of war and refugees fleeing westward from the advancing Soviet armies, Patton’s troops liberating the region of my family’s roots, the arrival of a distorted democracy in Czechoslovakia in 1945 — they were but the end result of political decisions beyond our control.

With the communist seizure of power in 1948, I was informed that I would not be permitted to continue my education, and the goal of university education was out of the question. Fortunately, I was able to escape to Germany, eventually realizing my childhood dreams in the New World.

The excitement I felt as a child about learning remains with me to this day. Teaching politics gives me the luxury of sharing my enthusiasm with generations of students. It has been rewarding beyond words to know of so many students learning about politics and the world and then to hear from them, sometimes after 30 years.

I especially appreciate the opportunity to teach the basic courses in national and Texas politics, for in a context less dramatic than that of my childhood, I am able to contribute to civic education, teaching that politics matter and that the whole world is the subject area.

I hope my lessons — that these subjects are important and that political engagement is desirable — will help to promote a life in which students will not be the helpless objects of forces beyond their control.

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