Blog: Teacher Feature, Scott Davis, Professor of English and Co-Chair, Department of English

Scott Davis is Coastline College’s 2019 Teacher of the Year. Learn more about Coastline’s renowned professor and co-chair.

Tell us about yourself.

Hi, I am Scott Davis, English Professor and Co-Chair of the English Department at Coastline College, where I have taught for seven years.  I studied poetry and economics as an undergrad and literature, rhetoric, and critical theory as a grad student. Although I’ve earned writing and scholastic accolades, the other award of which I’m most proud goes back to high school days, when as a shy kid in rural Oregon I received the Citizenship Cup.  There is no such thing as an absolutely good or bad person, which is part of the intrigue of reading and writing the most complex literary characters, but trying to be a good person, something akin to the Kalos Kagathos ideal, matters.  

Why do you love working at Coastline?

I appreciate the variety of students we serve at Coastline; it requires an instructor to grow and evolve continually.  My students are some of the most interesting people I’ve met.  Teaching allows one to inhabit the world of ideas, an oasis in an industrious and utilitarian society, and to empower others to do the same.  I became a teacher somewhat unwittingly, after leaving the Chicago business world, when I joined up with a friend and his wife to start an English as a Second Language (ESL) school in South Korea.  I owe those students a debt of gratitude for putting up with the trial and error they endured as I tested out teaching methods and materials on them.

What is unique about your class?

I think of myself as hosting a class.  The dynamic between teacher and student should be joyful whenever possible; happy students want to attend class, and their brains are flush with neurotransmitters.

Rejoice in your next English class. Explore Coastline’s English Department and class offerings today!

What are your thoughts on AB705?

AB705 requires that we maximize the probability of students’ completing college English and math within one year of matriculation.  While this can seem disruptive, it’s statistically in students’ best interest to have Freshman Composition as their default placement level, and it’s unequivocally in their best interest to attain the skills of Freshman Comp (writing fluid and reader-centered prose, proofreading for mechanics, conducting research, using sources) at the start of their college journey.  Our committed instructors, in tandem with the dean, have worked swiftly to transition to compliance, which we’ve reached well in advance of the Fall ’19 deadline.  So students, take Freshman Comp during your first or second semester at Coastline; it’ll change your life, and your dreams will come true! 

Interested in learning about AB705 from the math perspective? Then check out our last week’s Teacher Feature, Fred Feldon.

Interesting and unknown facts.

Music is probably my true passion, whether it’s seeking out new live stuff or composing my own ditties that will never be heard.  Similarly, participating in a class has elements of invention, structure, solos, and harmonies, not unlike a musical performance. 

Whom do you look up to and why?

I have a philosophy that everyone is my teacher.  I learn from casual interactions with strangers in public places, from students, and from conferences and videos.  No one has been more important than my parents and colleagues, and I thank them all.

Three tips from Scott Davis to Coastline Students:

  1. Take online classes on a desktop computer or a laptop, not on your cell phone!
  2. Prioritize building skills and knowledge, the grades will follow.
  3. Read EVERYTHING!

Anything else you’d like to share?

I would like to share a free verse work from the public domain.  While poetry can sometimes be highfalutin and allegorical, and therefore inaccessible to many readers, this poem can be read on a literal level.  It’s a reminder that many of us toil by hand and back, not without suffering, yet it also celebrates same. 

“Work Gangs” by Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967)

Box cars run by a mile long.
And I wonder what they say to each other
When they stop a mile long on a sidetrack.
 Maybe their chatter goes:
I came from Fargo with a load of wheat up to the danger line.
I came from Omaha with a load of shorthorns and they
splintered my boards.
I came from Detroit heavy with a load of flivvers.
I carried apples from the Hood River last year and this year
    bunches of bananas from Florida; they look for me with
    watermelons from Mississippi next year.

Hammers and shovels of work gangs sleep in shop corners
when the dark stars come on the sky and the night watchmen
    walk and look.
 
Then the
talk to the handles,
then the scoops of the shovels talk,
how the day’s work nicked and trimmed them,
how they swung and lifted all day,
how the hands of the work gangs smelled of hope.  
In the night of the dark stars
when the curve of the sky is a work gang handle,
in the night on the mile-long sidetracks,
in the night where the hammers and shovels sleep in corners,
the night watchmen stuff their pipes with dreams—
and sometimes they doze and don’t care for nothin’,
and sometimes they search their heads for meanings, stories,
    stars.

The stuff of it runs like this:
A long way we come; a long way to go; long rests and long deep
    sniffs for our lungs on the way.
Sleep is a belonging of all; even if all songs are old songs and
    the singing heart is snuffed out like a switchman’s lantern with
the oil gone, even if we forget our names and houses in
    the finish, the secret of sleep is left us, sleep belongs to all,
    sleep is the first and last and best of all.        
  
People singing; people with song mouths connecting with song    hearts; people who must sing or die; people whose song
    hearts break if there is no song mouth; these are my people.

About the Teacher Feature Series.

Coastline College proudly highlights its renowned faculty through the Teacher Feature blog series. This week’s feature showcases Scott Davis, English Instructor and Co-chair of the English Department.

Enjoy learning about Coastline’s greatest? Check out the previously highlighted #TeacherFeatures. Your future instructor may be amongst the featured!

This blog was updated on May 16, 2019 to recognize Professor Davis’ latest accolade: 2019 Teacher of the Year.