Saturday, February 24, 2018

Know Your Profs: Camosun political science instructor Mona Brash gets students politicized

October 5, 2015 by Greg Pratt, managing editor

Know Your Profs is an ongoing series of profiles on the instructors at Camosun College. Every issue we ask a different instructor at Camosun the same 10 questions in an attempt to get to know them a little better.

Do you have an instructor that you want to see interviewed in the paper? Maybe you want to know more about one of your teachers, but you’re too busy, or shy, to ask? Let us help you out: email and we’ll add your instructor to our list of teachers to talk to.

This issue we talked to Camosun political science instructor Mona Brash about politics, science fiction, and casserole.

Don’t ask Mona Brash a question if the answer is on the syllabus (photo provided).

1: What do you teach and how long have you been a teacher at Camosun?

I teach Political Science. The courses are Canadian Government and Politics, International Conflict, Politics and Law, and Local Government. My newest course, which will run again in January, is called Politics and Pipelines. I have been teaching at Camosun since 2009. Before that, I taught at UVic and at the Esquimalt Navy Base for Royal Military College.

2: What do you personally get out of teaching?

It is gratifying to see students learn about our government and politics, how things work. Most come to class with limited or no knowledge about this, which is why we are hereŃto help them learn. To see students take an active role in lobbying government, joining non-government organizations, and even becoming involved in politics at any level (some have run for office!) is wonderful. My best memories are of the students I have met who had a hard time in their late teens and early adult years and came to Camosun and flourished.

3: What’s one thing you wish your students knew about you?

They already know an awful lot about me. Because I teach first- and second-year courses, I get to know them well and they get to know me.

4: What’s one thing you wish they didn’t know about you?

They know that if they bring up amalgamation or fixed election dates, I will “discuss” those for quite a while!

5: What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you as a teacher here?

There is no one “thing.” There are so many days when students show a real interest, participate in exuberant discussions, and provide an insight of which I never thought. Those are the days when I know what a privilege it is to work with our students. I leave the classroom and can’t believe I actually get paid to do something so fun and so rewarding.

6: What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you as a teacher here?

The worst thing that ever happened was when the provincial government cut Camosun’s budget. That resulted in four Political Science sections per year being cut from our offerings. That means we have fewer instructors here and fewer courses from which students can choose.

7: What do you personally see in the future of postsecondary education?

I see a continued lack of appreciation by government of the role of arts and sciences in education. Ironically, at some point, business will demand more of a focus on it as they realize how important critical thinkers and writers are to them and society. Then the government may listen.

8: What do you do to relax on the weekends?

I like to go for long bike rides with [husband] Clarence [Bolt, Camosun history instructor], followed by a coffee and muffin at our local coffee shop. I read the papers thoroughly to bring current and relevant stories back to my students. I also like to garden, read science fiction (it is so political) and political biographies, and go to Vancouver to visit my children and granddaughters every month. I love to have dinner parties a few times a year.

9: What is your favourite meal?

My comfort meal, when life throws nasty curves or those politicians are really upsetting me, is a chicken casserole with lots of broccoli and carrots, served with rice and a nice glass of cold milk. Essential in my home is that that dinner is followed with three dark-chocolate-covered almonds.

10: What’s your biggest pet peeve?

In school, being asked a question if the answer is in the syllabus. Outside of school, disinformation from politiciansŃhow awful to deliberately tell voters something incorrect about our system of government.

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