The Relativity of Teaching Physics
What has physics Professor John Klages learned from more than 40 years of teaching nearly 7,000 students?
“They have stimulated my thinking processes and often humbled me as well,” he says. “I like humor in my classes; the students know that. One day I saw a marker on the board ledge. It wasn’t our usual brand and I began to read the side to make sure it was erasable. I read the motto on the marker out loud, ‘Doing the right thing since 1914.’ One of my students replied, ‘Doesn’t it make you want to know what they did in 1913?"
CCM Becomes a Family Tradition
Klages was 25 years old when he began teaching science at County College of Morris (CCM). Over the years, the college has played a large part in his life. He met his wife at CCM. She got her degree here as did their son, now an aerospace engineer. Their daughter, who works off-Broadway, took theater classes in the College for Kids program at CCM.
His love of teaching began in graduate school. He enjoyed lecturing so much that his professors expanded the courses he taught. When he graduated, he secured a position at CCM. As someone who moved around a lot early in life, the fact that he has remained in one place so long is a bit of surprise, albeit a pleasant one, for Klages.
“My father was a salesman,” he explains. “I was born in Pittsburgh, lived in upstate New York, Ohio and New Jersey. I attended college in Michigan and Texas. I was used to moving around.” He joined CCM as an instructional assistant and eventually rose to the rank of professor. He earned his bachelor degree from Michigan State University and his master’s degree from the University of North Texas.
College Students Are Great People
“It’s been a great place to work. I’ve had opportunities to teach a greater diversity of courses here than I could have taught anywhere else,” Klages notes. “Of course, I love working with students. College students are great people; they’re funny, bright and pleasant. I feel tremendously blessed to have had the career I’ve had.”