KOKOMO, Ind. — Paul Cook is not your average professor. This pizza-blogging, Renaissance man delivers his messages of English writing in an enthusiastic learning environment for students.
His vast experiences include conducting research to creative blogs critiquing local pizza parlors.
This range of interest and style gives Cook the “upper crust” in the classroom and still allows room to focus on writing essentials – vocabulary and grammar.
“I’ve always loved the energy of a college campus and the kinds of thinking and learning that are possible here,” said Cook, assistant professor of English and director of writing Indiana University Kokomo. “I think I knew I wanted to teach early in my college days.”
Writing is an exercise that helps students face challenges by practicing critical thinking.
“In this intense political environment, it is vital that students learn how to confront the complexity of contemporary problems and issues,” Cook said. “Writing faces an engagement with this complexity.”
By creating a classroom environment that is designed to explore various aspects of English, he is able to give students tools to expand their minds. He brings in ideas that may ask students to see current society norms and issues in a new light.
In a recent course he taught, Cook had students watch a documentary that was related to stereotypes and how people speak, such as tone, style, speed, and other vocal indications. The students had to analyze their own voices and how there are verbal shifts that exist when they were around other people in particular contexts.
“Dr. Cook reinforces the idea to think outside yourself and to challenge what you always assume,” said Kristina Garber, 22, Peru. “Everything is suspect in the world.”
Cook has also gone above and beyond to expand minds and create discussions. He is one of the main initiators in the “Table Talk” series on campus. This is an opportunity where students and faculty have a chance to start a conversation about some current, touchy subjects.
“It’s not about getting to an answer,” he said. “It’s about starting a conversation.”
Story written by Kambren Stanley. Kambren is a student writer in the Office of Media & Marketing.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.