The student news site of Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Off the record

SuYoung Park/Staff Illustration

SuYoung Park/Staff Illustration

SuYoung Park/Staff Illustration

Off the record

Business Professor Gerhardt wants his students to connect through talking stick

December 13, 2017

Professor and Business Department Coordinator Paul Gerhardt wants the students in his classes to see and appreciate the wisdom of Native Americans.

He is a creative professor who brings a Native American talking stick into his human relations class to recognize indigenous cultures, which are often ignored or overlooked.

He said before starting a class activity, in Native American culture, whoever is holding the stick will be able to talk, and others are to show respect and listen.

Gerhardt walked around the room with the talking stick, asked a question and one person at a time would answer. Whoever was to answer that question had to first repeat what has been said by the person before them and state their own answer.

This might seem like an unusual class activity, but it created an atmosphere where students began to make connections, talking out feelings to strangers and soon-to-be classmates and friends.

Gerhardt uses creative ways to connect with his class, showing his understanding that people have different personalities and learning styles.

“Meet people where they are at,” said Gerhardt.

He said he was a community college student himself, so he understands the challenges his students face. Gerhardt said he tries to be a resource for the success of his students and works hard in the classroom to make their educational experiences exciting and meaningful.

Curt Warmington, English professor at Pierce College, teaches in the classroom next to Gerhardt.

“I hear a lot of laughter and passionate dialogue coming from his classes. His classes have a lot of great energy and make great use of experiential learning,” Warmington said.

Gerhardt invites guest speakers to share inspiring message, such as Pierce alumni Greg Marks, to speak about hope and attitudes for success. Other repeat guests include Choi Halladay, vice president of Administrative Services, who spoke about ethics and Chancellor Michele Johnson, who shared the importance of teambuilding through stories of success at Pierce Community College.

His passion for student success is present every day. 

“I want to make sure that each of you has the tools and the information  to be successful,” Gerhardt said, encouraging his students at the end of class.

Leave a Comment

The Pioneer intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Pioneer does not allow anonymous comments, and The Pioneer requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

Pierce Pioneer • Copyright 2018 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in