Published: November 13, 2015
BARRY X. KUHLE, Ph.D
On day one I make photo rosters of my students to learn their names. The older gentleman in this picture first limped into PSYC 220 ~ Social Psychology four minutes late. I remember it vividly. Because my stomach sank and dread became me.
“Oh no. He is so not going to click with me. My blue humor, frank talk about sex and general provocativeness are going to offend him and get me in hot water. F***.”
That was my thought process before he even sat down, which he eventually did—Front and center—Right under my nose. And then studied me, sternly.
My dread then combined with my paranoia: “Holy s***. He’s probably a member of the board of trustees. They’re keeping an eye on me. I am so so so f*****.”
Flash forward a few weeks after we’ve chatted, and I’ve read a story about him. It turns out he’s not a member of The Board—Whew!
He’s Dr. Stanley Rose, an 85-year-old retired dentist, who lives in a planned residential community, but loathes talking with his fellow ‘gray hairs’ about grandchildren and golf. So he long ago decided to take classes here at The University—Thirty-four of them…and counting—To keep his mind sharp and to talk about something, anything other than golf and grandkids.
And talk he has—In class—and it’s amazing.
I discuss how politicians use techniques to persuade us, he raises his long arm, I call on him (“Dr. Rose?”), and he proceeds to wax poetic about Harry S. Truman. TRUMAN!
I highlight the in-group / out-group psychology underlying the Syrian refugee crisis, and he brings up historical refugee exoduses and why certain countries stepped up then, and now. I lecture on the role obedience to authority played in the Holocaust and Dr. Rose shares his reflections of it as a teenager in the mid-40’s—and then insights from his Air Force days during the Korean War in the mid-50’s; and on, and on…
At this point I just look to Dr. Rose for a historical perspective, and he gladly indulges me. I cannot adequately express how awesome this is, and how wayward and wrong my initial dread and fears were because he smiled and said in class when I expressed my concern over his reception of my unconventional lecturing style: “Dr. Kuhle, I’ve heard it all.”
Thank you, Dr. Rose. You are one of the many reasons I love my job.