Penn State

Nancy A. Dennis - Associate Professor , Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Mismeasure of Man

Author: Stephen Jay Gould

Book Description:

I chose The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould to honor an influential teacher, Tack Chase, who supported me and encouraged me throughout high school -- and, unbeknownst to everyone at the time, set me on the academic and professional course I am on today. When all other honors students in my high school were taking orchestra or band, tone-deaf me was at a loss for an extracurricular class to complete my schedule. Without much thought I signed up for Psychology. That was 1992. Now, 23 years later I find myself a tenured professor in the same discipline.

It wasn’t just the fact that I randomly signed up for ‘Psychology’ as a junior in high school that was the key to my career in psychology, but the fact that I had a professor who encouraged me and got me excited about a class more so than any other I had taken. Yes, I was an honors student and did just fine in school. But I found History to be just memorizing fact and Calculus to be just plugging in numbers to a formula. English, well, thank goodness for the invention of Mircosoft spellcheck is all I will say on that topic! Today I know what I learned in each of those classes were much more than how I viewed it at the time. But Psychology was different. It made me think. At the end of the class Mr. Chase presented me the book, The Mismeasure of Man, in it a note that read "Outstanding Psychology student 1991-1993. Good luck in iochemistry [my then-declared college major]. Thanks for the 2 years. Tack Chase."

Well, thank you Tack Chase for the two years. And so much more.


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