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Humanities Instructor Shares Neat Philosophy

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Snoop Dogg and Joe Domitrovich Image

From left: Snoop Dogg with TMCC Instructor Joe Domitrovich

Truckee Meadows Community College Humanities Instructor Joe Domitrovich believes that teachers should enjoy themselves as they teach, which will lead to enthusiastic lessons generating further excitement and enjoyment by students.

“I try to insert humor and shows like 'Star Trek' as historical comparisons into my presentations,” he said. “What I like most about teaching is that I don’t have to work for a living. I’ve got the best job in the world. They pay me to talk about what I love to talk about, and to good kids.”

In addition, it is not just passion for the course content, it’s also about mentoring the students.

“Part of my job is to make them believe in themselves, that they can get ‘A’s,” Domitrovich said. “We get to influence students—to make a difference, how cool is that?”

Domitrovich teaches HUM 101 and 102: Introduction to Humanities I and II, Core Humanities (CH) 201: Ancient and Medieval Cultures, CH 202: The Modern World, and CH 203: American Experiences and Constitutional Change.

Topics taught in humanities courses typically include art, music, literature, philosophy and theater.

“Humanities comes from the Renaissance where they followed the ideas of the ancient Greeks, and the subjects that were important to the ancient Greeks are subjects that dealt with people, with humans, hence humanities,” he said. “Some colleges put history and political science in humanities, some don’t.”

Techniques for Consistency Between In-person and Online

Domitrovich believes that it’s important to make course content and delivery consistent and equal whether a student takes a course online or in person. To this goal, he has developed a strategy to make the classes equivalent through videotaped lectures that integrate supplementary film footage, helping content come alive for his students.

“Basically to level the playing field between online and in-person classes, with TMCC videographer Tim Ill, we video my lectures and then put them on Canvas so the students get to see me and have the experience of the lectures,” he said. “That levels the playing field and gives the online class the feel of an in-person class. We put the videos on Canvas for my in-person class, too—for if a student has to miss class or if a student wants to review for an exam, they can put the videos on.”

Students receive essentially the same content and delivery; lectures, peer-reviewed textbook content, and online resources.

“And I make each of my exams as half from the lecture, half from the textbook,” Domitrovich added. “The people taking an in-person class had been at a bit of a disadvantage because they’re tested on more when you include lecture material. But now it’s totally even.”

Video Lectures Add Digital Media

“In one of the lessons, I compare Gene Roddenberry to Thomas More,” he said. “Thomas More put his ‘Utopia’ out on an island in the Atlantic because the sensors wouldn’t let him do it in England—and Gene Roddenberry wanted to make social commentary through a TV show and couldn’t get it through the sensors, so he put it in outer space. Thomas Moore was during the Age of Exploration—well the 1960s was an age of exploration too. What were we exploring? Space, the final frontier.”

The introductory segment of "Star Trek" is inserted into the lecture video with the narration “Space the final frontier” and the show’s theme song.

“And on lectures I do of Civil Rights, Tim and I put in scenes of Dr. Martin Luther King giving a speech and scenes of Civil Rights demonstrations,” Domitrovich added. “You can do cool things online that makes it so good for the students.”

The Best Job In The World

“I think being a teacher is more than giving content,” he added. “Being a teacher is...and this is my slogan, ‘They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’”

Domitrovich said that he has been teaching for 48 years, but hasn’t gone to work in all that time.

“What a job I have,” he said. “Teaching isn’t a job, it’s a calling. I'm so grateful to TMCC for the opportunity to continue my teaching career. There are so many fantastic instructors and professors at TMCC, and I'm very proud to teach beside them."

For more information about studying Humanities at TMCC, please call 775-674-7945.