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Conquering questions through conversation: Ron Scott named alumni association’s Effective Educator

By Melissa Borowicz Betrus
Ron Scott wants to know what students in his mass media criticism class think when they watch Archie Bunker belt out "God Bless America" during an All in the Family episode and then see thousands in Yankee Stadium sing "God Bless the USA." What does it mean, he asks them.

After a brief pause, they start talking about staging, camera angles, cuts and fades, Will & Grace, a Coca-Cola commercial and nightly news anchors Tom, Peter and Dan. Soon they’re analyzing what gets past almost everyone else who regularly watches TV.

The nonstop conversation clearly pleases Scott, who, positioned at the head of the table in his Williams Halls classroom, leans back in his chair and chuckles softly. His students are thinking.

"I don’t like to lecture. I can do it, and I do sometimes, but it’s really that give-and-take, that interaction in the classroom that is much more important," says Scott, an associate professor of communication and this year’s Effective Educator, so named because of his influence on students beyond their years at Miami.

He is flattered, a little embarrassed and not willing to accept all the credit.

"We build on each other," he explains. "Somebody had to lay the foundation for me to come in and build on that, and I hope someone else will build on what I do. It’s about all of us. It’s not just about me."

Early in his career Scott adopted Plato’s idea of the academy where students probe issues and conquer questions through conversation.

One former student who appreciated that approach is David Coon ’97 of Bowling Green, Ohio. Coon wrote in his nomination letter that the professor "led his classes on a journey of discovery, helping us to reach our own conclusions. With the subtlest guidance, he could get us to learn what he wanted us to learn by allowing us to figure it out for ourselves."

At Miami since 1988, Scott will be honored at various Homecoming activities this weekend.

Melissa Borowicz Betrus is a graduate assistant for Miamian alumni magazine.

Date Published: 10/25/2001
Volume: 21   Number: 13

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