The Looking Glass

The Looking Glass

The Department of Psychology


Carl G. Conklin

In the winter quarter of 1996, I had a most pleasurable experience being a teacher's assistant and lab assistant for Dr. David Fitzpatrick in his 304A (experimental psychology) class. The first thing that impressed me was that I didn't remember being as frightened when I took 304A as the students seemed to be that first night. In fact, it appeared to me that, I was more scared that first class than the students were. However, let me assure you that the fear passed into fulfilling enthusiasm when I realized how much I was learning, and how much help I could be not only to the students but to Dr. Fitzpatrick.

As those of you who have taken 304A can attest to... it is a concentrated course on how to do the impossible. I tried my best to make things easy on the students, but realized by listening to and observing Dr. Fitzpatrick that that was not very practical. The modus operandi is to help the students discover, or should I say, create their own path through the labyrinth of alternatives hanging invisibly within their grasp. It was at times an almost euphoric experience.

It was a great class, a fun class, a very united class, and an incredible learning experience for me. One can not imagine how different it is to be on the other end of the rod until they are there. It really cannot be explained. It must be experienced. One must volunteer to do it to feel the real impact of what I am saying. Let me add, it does not stop when the quarter ends. The experience, the feelings, and the ideas keep flowing. I can see now many more things that I could have done, many more things I will do next time.

I have gone on and on about me, when the subject of this article is not really about me. The real person behind this person "me" was Dr. Fitzpatrick. The Doctor of Psychology who walks the halls and corridors of the Psychology Department of CSLA carrying a large paper cup of... does anyone really know what is in that infamous cup he carries, with that conspicuous straw protruding, inviting him to take the next sip? Who knows what secrets really lie under that lid. This is the man I served under that quarter. The man who knew just when to appear to ask just the right question to take you from slightly interested to totally confused. Dr. Fitzpatrick has that uncanny knack for creating humor out of the outrageously absurd. Yet, he can take total chaos and draw you a flowchart to straighten it out. He is not just a professor, a doctor, or a Ph.D. in psychology. He is an enigma. So why am I trying to explain the impossible? Because he is there. And I might add, he is there for all of us.

Thank you Dr. Fitzpatrick for the opportunity, for the experience, for the assistance, and for the advice. Thank you for being there when I needed you. Thank you for giving me the time to make my own contribution. Thanks for being you.


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