Grace Crocker, Staff Writer
Eric Boyer, Ph.D., a professor in the College of Education and Counseling, wanted to relay a story, as he felt it is important in regard to teaching and learning, not only in K-12, but in higher education, as well. He says the story is a representation of the paradigm shift that must happen, and is slowly happening, across educational institutions.
“First day of school 2015, sophomore World History, a student raises his hand. I call on him. He pulls out his phone, raises it high in the air and asks, ‘why do I need you?’ The class goes quiet. All other students expecting me to banish this snarky 15-year-old from the class. What type of discipline will the teacher impart upon this uppity sophomore? I pause, look him square in the eye and respond: ‘great question’. In fact, as I address the class, ‘each and every one of you in this room should not be afraid to ask this question of all your teachers’. I turn to the ‘uppity’ student: ‘what do you mean?’ I ask. He says, ‘Well, if I can look up any old fact on World History on my phone, then why do I need you? Why should I come to this class?’ Again, shock from the rest of the students. My ultimate response was this: You need me because I am your learning guide, I am your learning facilitator, I am your information-vetting specialist, I am your media literacy guru. Point being, this day and age, teaching is not about dumping information and facts on our student’s brains, it’s not about asking our students to memorize meaningless names/dates/vocabulary terms and mindless procedures. It’s ultimately about assisting them, essentially guiding them through the swamp that is information/media overload via the internet and social media.”
Only recently arriving at Saint Martin’s in 2016, Boyer has undoubtedly made a positive impact on everyone he has met. In addition to being a professor, Boyer is the adviser for the Saint Martin’s University Future Educators (SMUFE) club. Boyer has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound in psychology and a minor in history, as well as a master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University in special education and a Ph.D. in educational foundations, social studies curriculum and instruction, and teacher training from Seattle Pacific University. Boyer chose these focuses because of his interest in human motivation and his desire to connect learning and understanding between humans who are different from each other.
Boyer says his mantra has always been “we’re all just people, living our lives,” explaining that the mantra, “carries the weight of attempting to help individuals realize that we’re a lot more similar as humans than different.”
Boyer taught for 12 years in the K-12 system in both California and Washington as a special education teacher and world history teacher, usually for sophomore high school students. He also taught AP World History, AP European History, and Introduction to Psychology for high school seniors. For two years, Boyer was an Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher, helping middle and high school students going into college as first-generation students. Now, part of his work at Saint Martin’s is to connect with AVID courses and teachers at high schools in the North Thurston, Olympia, Tacoma, Yelm, and Puyallup school districts and bring them to campus in order to engage with students and faculty.
Boyer’s focus after receiving his Ph.D. was to “create a paradigm shift in high school education.”
He was hired in 2016 by Saint Martin’s College of Education and Counseling with the role of training secondary teachers. Courses he teaches now range from introductory education courses to master’s level courses.
Part of his work as an advisor for SMUFE involves attending conferences, analyzing research and documentaries, discussing news regarding educational developments across the nation, and brainstorming ways in which future educators can do better or, as he notes, “add to the conversation regarding a ‘paradigm shift’ in education.”
Boyer’s teaching philosophy is what he calls “3H”: head, hands, and heart, with head being the knowledge one can bring to the table, hands being the skills one can provide, and heart being what is important to someone.
“When you have these three H’s working in concert, a veritable symphony of teaching and learning can, and will occur.”
Boyer stated, “The ultimate paradigm-shift in education now, has become the teacher/educator/professor role as information ‘river guide.’ My metaphor now has become that of the river guide. You wouldn’t run the Rogue River in Southern Oregon by yourself, you’d hire a guide. Essentially the same thing. We, as professors in the Academy now must become ‘river guides,’ or to be literal, informational river guides. While approaching the Wikipedia page on (enter topic here), you should probably take the ‘center-line’, avoid the ‘jagged rocks,’ and determine whether or not that was the best path forward.”