“So Much of It Is Improvisation”: Adjunct Professor Mark Lamoureux

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Published on March 25, 2015

Wilson-Profile-PhotoEvery human holds within their being a passion, a calling to do something so strong, we often feel as if something is missing from our lives until that thing is discovered. Often we will try to make a living off of our passions, but sometimes the universe has different plans. For Professor Mark Lamoureux, this happened when he tried to build a life out of his passion for poetry. Unfortunately, poetry is not the highest paying form of writing so in order to make due he had to turn to some other sources of income. Along with doing some editing work, Lamoureux decided to become an adjunct professor, teaching in the New York area before settling down at Housatonic in 2013.

Professor Lamoureux teaches Composition 101 along with Literature and Composition, and it was in the former that I had my first encounters with him. As I sat there on the first day of class I wasn’t sure what to make of him. He never seemed to stop moving and he was constantly shuffling papers, or twiddling with a button on his shirt as he spoke, in what seemed like an attempt to divert his attention from the room full of eyeballs focused on him. He seemed to pick his words with caution, as if his brain was a couple seconds ahead of him, thinking carefully about how we’d react.

At the time it didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t fathom why this guy seemed so awkward. Growing up in a school system rampant with old hags and boring stiffs, it astounded me that someone who seemed to not at all like being the center of attention would choose a career as a teacher. Soon however, I learned that how Professor Lamoureux acted was not entirely nervousness, but actually his very own teaching style.

“So much of it is improvisation–you have to learn to adjust and react to really specific situations and to process information in lots of different ways to make it accessible to lots of different people. There’s no cut-and-dried method of doing this–mostly you just need to learn to listen closely and to figure out what are the right questions to ask to determine if a person understands something or not,” said Lamoureux

It’s certainly true that Lamoureux finds countless ways to really make the importance of his lessons stick. Since having him as a teacher I have seen him demonstrate points of view using mirrors and masks, illustrate logical fallacies with Monty Python and even use his tidy suit vest as a metaphor for MLA formatting.

But how does someone trying to balance working at the school with all the other aspects of his life find the time to come up with such involved lesson plans? Extremely precise time management. The Professor explained, “After teaching for 10 years or so, I have learned a rhythm as to balancing my own work, teaching and the other things that I do. I definitely spend a lot of time working on trains!”

Yes, Lamoureux certainly has his hands full, but as a student it’s hard to believe that someone who seems to have such a firm grasp on teaching is actually only an adjunct professor. If it were not for his office being hidden inside the sociology department I wouldn’t second guess the assumption that he was someone with the same wage and job security of a full time teacher.

But despite the limitations of his position or his apparent awkwardness, it’s clear to see that Mark Lamoureux is someone who cares deeply about the success of his students. He is a prime reminder of how life is full of surprises, and even though you think you might know what your calling is, sometimes life calls upon you to do something even greater.