Interview with Dr. Harold Sorknes

I sat awkwardly in Dr. Harold Sorknes' Kennedy Center office, looking to make some small talk that would break the ice. "Sammy Sosa, huh?" I asked, looking at a photocopied picture of the slugger from the Baltimore Orioles, scotch-taped to the office door

"Yes," Dr. Sorknes replied. "I had some white trim around the picture, but someone took a marker and wrote 'cheater' on it. So I had to make a new copy, this time with no border."

Each week, Dr. Sorknes finds an interesting figure from the news and places that person's picture on his office door, in hopes of sparking some conversation amongst passersby. Unfortunately on this occasion, the passerby had some unpleasant remarks towards Sorknes' featured person, citing Sosa's involvement in baseball's steroid scandal.

Sorknes, who teaches such classes as Foundations of Education and South Dakota Indian Studies, sits up straight in his office chair, more than eager to field the questions regarding writing I am about to throw his way.

"We write reflections on three articles," Sorknes says of the writing required in his Foundations class. "We also write papers titled 'Why I Want to Teach' and 'I Believe'" The "I Believe" paper begins with an opening statement on something the student believes in, followed by a multiple-paragraph follow-up as to why they believe the way they do.

Citing using the APA format, Sorknes' lesson plans and detailed journals kept in class are requirements of the Indian Studies class. A useful journal for the Indian Studies course, Sorknes points out, is Indian Country Today.

In the College of Education, expectations between the undergraduate and graduate students are definitely different. While the undergraduate students aren't expected to be experts in the field of grammar, graduate students are. "Graduate students should have the ability to synthesize information."

Dr. Sorknes realizes that there are different expectations for students in the College of Education, as compared to other students. "There might be similarities, but the expectations would depend on purpose."

For library research, Sorknes, like most professors in the College of Education, recommends utilizing the Eric Journal database.

Dr. Sorknes makes sure he has answered all of my questions thoroughly enough, then sees me out of his Sosa-clad office.


Last Updated: 7/31/12