Meet Globe University-La Crosse‘s new Films in Society instructor, Joel Kopplin. Joel is a huge film aficionado and published writer.
Each week, the students are kept in suspense until the very last minute, never knowing what film they will see until Joel shows it in the classroom. This makes for some lively discussion and anticipation. The two times I have visited his class, it was so great to see the students engaged and full of questions. You can really tell Joel loves what he is teaching, and by the students’ interaction, that passion is contagious!
“I love the act of teasing out and sharing ideas over complex issues, and it’s really satisfying to see what students get out of the same act,” Joel said.
“I teach in a seminar format, so my classes are usually conducted in a circle so that I’m not the center of attention,” Joel said. “Seeing students wrestle with tough or alien concepts, and then seeing them share their ideas with each other, is really awesome. I find that the students ultimately learn more from one another other in this format than they do from me. It is really fantastic.”
The students were hesitant at first, but now they jump right into the film discussion. Joel is impressed that all of his students are game to tackle difficult topics and issues.
“I love that they fully insert themselves every week to discuss bizarre films,” Joel said. “I love showing difficult, offbeat films every week, demonstrating to students that film is much more than an entertainment. Films have a magical way of intersecting with the strange realities of what it is to be human.”
It was hard for him to narrow down his favorite films of all time, so he gave me three must-see movies: Blue Velvet (1986, dir. David Lynch), The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928, dir. Carl Theodore Dryer), and Mamma Roma (1962, dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini).
To get a little background on this film buff, I asked Joel to tell me a little bit about himself.
“I finished up my undergrad degree in 2009, and I was compelled to continue on with my English degree. At first teaching was merely a role I served for my assistantship, but after the first year, I was convinced that this was something I could do — and something that would offer rewarding relationships.”
Joel also teaches at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and writes in his spare time.
“I write fiction primarily. I’ve written novels and short stories. Writing fiction is something I’ve wanted to do from a very early age. It’s one of the few ways I have to make sense of the world,” Joel said.
Because of his success as instructor in the Globe general education area, I asked him if he has any advice for instructors who struggle with keeping the students engaged. He stated, “Don’t let anyone else validate what you do.”
We consider ourselves a very lucky campus to have Joel Kopplin on board. He offers a breath of fresh air, a unique teaching style, and knows how to engage a classroom!