|Professor Druker integrates culture into lesson plans|
|Written by Melanie Lowe, Reporter|
|Wednesday, 06 February 2013 11:41|
After visiting Italy, Jonathan Druker, associate professor of Italian, fell in love with the Italian language, culture and history.
Years later, he has brought his passion for all things Italian to ISU.
“I really like teaching at a public university because I think the students are very appreciative. And ISU students are just good people. I enjoy teaching language because it’s fun, Italian in particular,” Druker said.
Interestingly, Druker did not study the Italian language in college, and he does not stem from Italian roots.
Instead, he made the decision to learn Italian after experiencing Italy firsthand.
Realizing that teaching was something he does well, Druker began to share his knowledge with students.
“When I first started teaching, it was especially challenging because I didn’t have the experience of being on the other side of the table, of being a college student learning a language in the classroom. I didn’t learn Italian that way,” Druker said.
Despite having a different learning experience, Druker found a way to effectively convey his understanding of Italian to students.
In fact, enrollment in Italian Language courses has grown about four times in size since Druker began teaching at the university.
There are now three Italian language teachers, including Druker, who share an interest in Italian.
But for Druker, his fascination doesn’t end with the Italian language.
In addition, he has always had a spirited interest in the Holocaust, particularly relating to Italian history.
Amongst his various classes taught at ISU, Druker conducts a Holocaust Literature and Film class.
“As a teacher, it’s nice to have different subjects to teach. The difference is stimulating,” Druker said.
Italian Holocaust writer Primo Levi, a man who survived time at Auschwitz, is someone who caught Druker’s attention.
When speaking about Levi, Druker said, “The power of a good writer is that he or she can really get you interested in something new.”
Observably, that power worked. In 2009, Druker published a book about Levi, entitled “Primo Levi and Humanism After Auschwitz.”
The book examines a number of Levi’s many memoirs and essays.
Aside from the book, Druker has written several articles on Primo Levi.
For Druker, the learning experience is something that happens within the classroom, as well as in the outside world.
He comments on ISU’s relationship with Lorenzo de Medici, a university in Rome for students who are interested in studying abroad.
“I don’t want my students’ experiences to end in the classroom. Different languages and cultures are what make the world rich, so, ideally, students ought to experience Italy firsthand,” Druker said.
When he’s not teaching or publishing essays and books, Druker enjoys playing the guitar and riding his Italian bicycle when the weather allows.