Father relationships fascinate us - men and women both. They're powerful determinants of our adult selves and emotions. To Dave Landers, a longtime Saint Michael's psychology instructor and personal counselor, college always seemed like a sensible time to get a grip on the matter, so for years in his popular course on Men and Masculinities, he assigned his students a personal essay titled "How My Father Influenced My View of What a Man Is."
"They were amazing" Landers says of students' work, noting how the class is always equally divided between men and women. "There was joy, there was sorrow, there was pain and sadness, there was excitement and there was fear." He knew he "had something" with these essays, and so with student permission, he hung on to them for years, until finally, that "something" came to him: these honest and heartfelt student reflections were a book waiting to be compiled and written.
Two summers ago, Landers had a chance to spend a week in Maine by the sea and do nothing but write. The result is the 69-year-old's first book, I Wish He'd Taught Me How to Shave, released in August by Wind Ridge Books of Vermont. The title is pulled from one student's essay about his loving but complex relationship with his dad and the big and little things, either experienced or missed, that mattered in hindsight.
The August 15 book signing on campus was a classic Saint Michael's community event. Landers is a fixture on campus after 31 years of active enthusiasm for the institution, and on an otherwise quiet weekday summer afternoon he was gratified to see friends and supporters lining up nearly out the door waiting to have books signed. They then gathered to hear Landers share the story of his life and how it led to this project, from teaching in rough and racially charged Pontiac, Michigan in the 1960s, to coming to St. Mike's because his brother-in-law, former trustee Jim Wall '74, "had always spoken so lovingly of it and the impact it had on him and everybody he knew." Landers soon became head of the college's counseling center and led it for 23 years. There, as in Michigan, he said, "Again I found out, students just wanted someone to listen to them." During this period he also developed the Men and Masculinities class.
"I wanted to give my students a voice," he said of the class and book that grew out of it. Lin Stone, publisher of Wind Ridge Books, said, "Sometimes it's important to challenge dominant paradigms and to invert them when they're no longer healthy for society." In the book, Landers shares how some of his father's traditional male behaviors affected his early and later life, as did his dad's drinking and premature death when Landers was 15. The author, at times a little choked up, finished by reading thank you credits at the event. He closed by saying, "Mom, I know you would be proud, and Dad, I know you would have never understood, but I also know you both did the best job you knew how to do."
Dr. Dave Landers Interview about his new book
Dave Landers, instructor of psychology and gender studies, began a three-year elected term as chair of the NE-10 Faculty Athletics Representatives Executive Council on Jan. 1, 2013. Dave has served for the past year and a half as a member of the Executive Council and when the chair position opened up he was nominated and elected by other Faculty Athletics Representatives. Dave also continues to serve as chair of the college's Athletic Advisory Council, faculty adviser for the Student Association, faculty adviser for the Psychology Club and now the faculty adviser for the newly recognized/formed Beta Chapter of Chi Alpha Sigma, the National College Athlete Honor Society.
Dave Landers, instructor of psychology, has adapted technology from the campus "Tegrity" system in clever and innovative ways for their classrooms. He uses Tegrity regularly for both his Sports Psychology and Theories of Counseling courses. In the Saint Edmund's Hall "Psych Lab" a one-way glass pane is installed between the interview room and a small classroom on the other side. Each room is equipped with a Tegrity setup. Two students role-play an interview in the interview room, much as a psychologist would do.
The session is recorded and viewed live by the instructor and students on a closed circuit TV screen in the classroom, allowing them to analyze and discuss in real time. The dialogue and instructor's notes on an Ideapaint wall are recorded by Tegrity, including instructor use of a whiteboard (actually Idea Paint). The information that the two Tegrity recordings give the students helps them to see their strengths and weaknesses in their interviewing skills and creates a non-threatening environment for the role-players at the same time, Dave says.