Dr. Reginald Wilburn- Teaching pedagogy and the importance of a student's voice, 4/13/210
Students are missing out if they leave UNH without taking a class with Dr. Reginald Wilburn. Recently the winner of the Women’s Commission faculty award, Dr. Wilburn’s unique teaching style and knowledge provides students with an important perspective on the world.
Dr. Reginald Wilburn’s classroom is a haven for students and a space where students find their voice. His patience and compassion make the classroom dynamics both open and safe. Dr. Wilburn is a model for all students and how they should treat one another. Students listen carefully to one another and help piece writing and literature together. Each lesson is an instructional experience to improve analytical thinking. Dr. Wilburn writes notes on the board that show the important ideas within texts and this acts as a visual representation of students’ minds working together. The classroom is in constant motion with intellectual energy.
Though the messages authors are trying to convey can be “chilling”, Dr. Wilburn wants students to not just read the texts, but also feel them in their bones. In his classes, students come to recognize their own privileges and freedoms and relate the literature in the course to those lived experiences. Charles Mills’ essay “White Ignorance” begins a discussion of privilege and the importance of inclusivity. In every class, Dr. Wilburn re-focuses students’ personal epiphanies to the text and asks how this strengthens the meaning.
Dr. Wilburn’s classes derive from his own personal and professional interests and what he believes will draw students in. His classes are extremely unique not only by the topics covered but also the creative ideas behind them. In the past, Dr. Wilburn created a Survey to African American Literature class, which he focused around Obama’s presidency and African American tradition. His Dream Girls class actually came from watching the movie Dream Girls and the different dynamics that struck his attention. He came out of the theater asking, “Who talks about black and beautiful?”
By focusing on African American literature, Dr. Wilburn is able to travel where few UNH classrooms will ever go. By doing this, he is breaking the barrier of traditional classes down. Dr. Wilburn’s classes also fit into Women’s Studies because each one interrogates race, gender, class, and sexuality. His pedagogy is deeply engaged with feminist and queer perspectives. He veers away from the patriarchal tradition and nurtures the speech of students who might feel marginalized in other classrooms.
Non-English majors can take a class with Dr. Wilburn at any point. He believes in a “premium education” and that students in different fields will “come out thinking from multiple perspectives.” The power of analytical reading and writing will transfer to thinking and living, creating a better-rounded student. With each session, students will practice their voices as a tool while discussing texts and proving points. They will find that “mindful speech” pertains to their lives because language is privilege. Sexism, homophobia, racism, heterosexism and all the “isms” surround every individual and, according to Dr. Wilburn, language is a way to both comprehend and resist their effects. Dr. Wilburn believes that “the mastery of language is a passport that empowers marginalized voices to speak with authority and conviction.”