Loyola University Chicago

Arrupe College

Daniel Burke

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Title: Lecturer, Writing & Literature
Degrees: BA, University of Minnesota; MA & PhD, Marquette University
Hometown: Jefferson Park
Courses taught: Writing & Composition I and II (ACWRI 105 and 110), Interpreting Literature (ACENG 110)

What attracted you to Arrupe College?

The ability to work with highly-motivated students—not just “teaching,” but working closely with them toward their life goals. The mission of Arrupe was a big draw. I’ve been in Jesuit schools as a student and as an instructor for over 10 years, and Arrupe offered the unique chance to not just think and talk about social justice, but put it into action in my professional life. It’s an innovative form of higher education, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Talk a little about the classes you teach.

In the writing classes our goal is to transition students from more formulaic high school writing into the kind of arguments and evidence expected in papers for the college classroom. We focus on skills that will be useful in any academic setting, whether it’s a biology lab write-up or a history research project. In my literature classes we read a wide variety of forms—plays, poems, short stories, and novels—all focused on a central issue, for example, identity or empathy. Then we look for ourselves in those texts, and investigate what kinds of questions literature can ask, and answer, about our relationship with language, with ourselves, and with those around us.

No matter what the topic, my classes always start from one basic goal: to provide an environment that is an open, welcoming, and safe place for facilitating honest critical thinking and discussion. Once that’s done, it makes the rest much easier.

How did you get involved in teaching English?

Thanks to some great examples, I realized in high school that I wanted to teach at some level—and English is what I was best at. I love reading, love talking, and love thinking. Blessedly, that’s basically the job description of an English teacher—with some grading and administration thrown in. Except for two years living (teaching!) in Japan, I’ve been in school since kindergarten. The classroom is my happy place.

What’s your favorite part about teaching? And the biggest challenge?

The students for both! Guiding students toward new ideas, new ways of thinking, reading, or writing and to hear what they come up with is a joy and a privilege. And each class has its own wonderful mix of personalities. At the same time, since each student is unique, it challenges me to find techniques for teaching my class content in an engaging way to such a wide variety of learning styles, temperaments, and backgrounds. I try to inspire and educate them, and they return the favor, many times over.