Dr. Jeffrey Martinson is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Meredith College. While being known for his jokes and entertaining class discussions, Dr. Martinson shared some wisdom with The Herald that he hopes can make an impact in his students’ lives.
Dr. Martinson majored in German studies and political studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. While there, he was active in many clubs, including the Student Government Association, and was also able to study abroad. As Dr. Martinson has continued his academic career, he has centered his research around political studies. Dr. Martinson utilizes humor and interactive activities in the classroom, which he says is inspired by his own college professors.
When asked about what inspires him to be the best professor he can be, Dr. Martinson explains, “I enjoy when there is a vicarious joy of seeing other students learn and figure out problems on their own. If I can be a witness or be a part of it, then I know I have done my part, and that brings me joy.” He states that he mostly follows the advice of Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss: he’ll do everything he can to encourage others to grow in their own knowledge.
Dr. Martinson quotes Irish poet Oscar Wilde who once said that “life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.” He further explains that jokes help to keep his students engaged during class and that laughter is a coping mechanism that helps to break the tension of a classroom. According to Dr. Martinson, he apologizes to all of his students that have to take more than one class with him because he always uses the same jokes. He also shares that he enjoys teaching because “it is entertaining, frankly. We have to keep people engaged.” When asked where he finds his inspiration for keeping students engaged, he says that he listens to religious radio and a variety of preachers every day because preachers know how to captivate and teach an audience.
Though Dr. Martinson is passionate about bringing comedy into his classes, he says that the hardest thing he has had to learn as a professor is “how to understand that you cannot make everyone happy and that less is more.” What he means by this is that even though there are thousands of things that are important for students to learn, it's always better to start off small in order to create a foundation that further learning can expand on. Dr. Martinson believes that this method is better than continuously teaching concepts that students don't understand and overwhelming them with knowledge.
Dr. Martinson told The Herald during the interview that some students may be surprised to know that he is crazy about boats. He says that his neighbours call their street “The Mariner” because he owns three boats — one in his driveway, one parked in front of his house and one in his garage. He adds that if you count his canoe, he actually owns four boats. If students would like to see Dr. Martinson sailing, they should be on the lookout for his license plate: “BoatNut.” Besides his passion for boats, he likes to watch old British television shows, especially shows from the ‘50s. “There is something about the British accent that is very calming and puts me to sleep at night,” explains Dr. Martinson. When asked about his zodiac signs, he mentions that he is a Leo sun, Cancer moon and a Virgo rising.
Dr. Martinson says that he hopes his students learn a thing or two from his classes. He emphasizes that he wants his students to always push their boundaries and do things outside of the norm. Because of his fondness for his students, he wants them to realize their importance “by their virtue of being in college.” He explains that Generation Z will have an impact on the world as the next caretakers of the planet. Because of the massive impact we may have on the younger generation, Dr. Martinson reminds students to always be mindful of their influence.
Dr. Martinson ended the interview with a bittersweet quote for his students: “One day I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regret, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.”
By Hannah Taib, Staff Writer, and Sofia Gomez, Podcasting Director