Washburn alum to deliver lecture

Ryan Ogle / Washburn Review

Washburn alumnus Chris Goering, Associate Professor of English Education at the University of Arkansas and founder of LitTunes.com, will deliver the 2012-2013 Klemmer Lecture, which is set to take place at 4 p.m. Thursday Oct. 11 inside Carol Chapel.

Presented by Washburn’s English department, Goering’s speech is titled “Reversing the Educational Apocalypse: An Arts and Literacy Way Forward.” The speech will address what Goering calls the “educational apocalypse” our public education system is currently experiencing.  As a former English teacher at Washburn Rural High School, who also served as assistant football, debate and forensics coach, the importance of maintaining a productive public education system is not lost on Goering.

“I happen to believe fully in the power of public education and the vision of our forefathers for creating a country through our school system,” said Goering.  “What has become apparent to many, myself included, is the fact that many large corporations are taking anti-public education stances. A fact due to their influence (money) that could seriously cripple public education in America.”

Goering cites a voucher system recently put into place in Louisiana that threatens to undermine public education and create a private school monopoly as an example of the many problems our public schools are facing. He admits that lessening the grip the corporate world has over schools won’t be an easy task; the professor feels that the power of music and art could play vital roles in the struggle.

“I’ll use this talk to advocate for an arts and literacy focus in the curriculum and also in the discussion about education through the caveat of music,” said Goering. “In short, I’m keenly interested in the research possibilities opened up when educators start writing songs about their experiences.”

Aside from being a respected educator and lecturer, Goering also writes and records his own music. In 2009, he released an album entitled “Where He’s Going” and hopes to have new material available sometime next year. However, it’s the convergence of his two passions for which the professor has become most well-known. In 2007, Goering launched LitTunes.com, an open-access, commercial-free collaborative online community that offers ways to integrate popular music into the classroom.

With contributions from educators across the country, LitTunes.com has become a valuable resource for teachers of all grades and subjects when trying to motivate and engage students.

Though inspiration for LitTunes.com is based in teaching methods Goering used while teaching at Washburn Rural, the website won’t be the focus of his presentation at the Klemmer Lecture. However, the professor is looking forward to his return to Washburn, where he played football for a year and a half and was an officer in the Washburn Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society.

“My time at Washburn was nothing short of fantastic, so it is an incredible honor to be asked to return, especially given the past outstanding Klemmer Lecturers of the past, some of whom are my heroes,” said Goering.  “My parents attended in the 70’s and it was always highly regarded in my home. It still is for the simple fact that the quality of the teaching was so high–we had terrific faculty members in the English Department and many of them I still consider to be personal heroes.”

As a presenter at the Klemmer Lecture, Goering joins a list of highly-respected names in the fields of literature, education and writing. Danny Wade, associate professor of English, mentions the likes of Ted Kooser, Tom Romano, Sir Christopher Ricks and Sherman Alexie as previous presenters. The Klemmer Lecture is named in honor of former Washburn English instructor and founder of Inscape literary magazine, Jo Ann Klemmer.

“Without Jo Ann’s contributions, the Klemmer Lecture would not be possible,” said Wade. “As a result, she contributes to our professional development and growth as English professors.”