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Q&A with Two Popular Continuing Ed Instructors | Bismarck State College

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Q&A with Two Popular Continuing Ed Instructors

Perry Hornbacher, BSC history professor, and Jason Matthews, BSC political science lecturer, not only share their knowledge with college students, they also encourage lifelong learning by teaching continuing education and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI@BSC) courses at BSC. This Q&A offers insight into their interests and teaching methods.

What do you enjoy about teaching continuing education courses?

PH: The participants have a different perspective than college students as they are taking the class for pleasure and to better understand the topic we are covering. They often have different life experiences giving me the opportunity to look at the topics from their perspective. Often they share their experiences when dealing with historical topics they lived through. 

JM: When I was a child, I was older than my years. I preferred visiting with adults. OLLI allows me to interact with, what one of my best friends says is, “my target demographic.” Many topics I teach are about American presidents or events OLLI participants have lived through. In my first ‘What in the Hell is Happening?’ course back in 2017, I put together a timeline of significant events from 1960 to 2017 to answer how America arrived at this moment. One participant said it was the visual equivalent of Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire.’ That was one of the highest compliments I could have received. Course discussions often end up educating me, which is pure delight. 

How do you pick your topics?

PH: I try to find topics that I would find stimulating and are of interest to the general public. I want to enlighten people by exploring points and ideas that are not always well understood. 

JM: I have always been interested in American history, especially political history, American politics and the presidency. Most of my courses are anchored in those topics. But I’m also very fascinated by global events. Every now and again, I come across a documentary or have a conversation with someone that piques my interest and I make it into a course, such as the one I taught on Bing Crosby and Johnny Carson. 

Are you willing to share any future course topics you’re considering?

PH: I am looking at the idea of teaching historical topics using the media of film. How our perspective of a subject is often shaped or created by the movies or media that have often shaded or altered the general public’s historical perspective, which sometimes have more lasting impacts than the facts. 

JM: I’ll be teaching a course on the life, presidency and post-presidency of Jimmy Carter. His presidency, I think, is a cautionary tale, while his post-presidency embodies many of the best of American virtues. It’s time to assess Jimmy Carter and put his presidency and life into greater context. I also suspect if I teach for OLLI long enough, and if the world makes it through this year, I’ll someday teach a class on 2020. 

Why do you feel continuing education is important?

PH: Learning is a lifelong experience and continuing education offers opportunities for those who are always looking to broaden their worlds and education. 

JM: It engages your mind, connects you with other individuals with similar interests and sparks the desire to know even more. It's in the discovery that we feel alive. 

BSC continuing education and TrainND provide personal and professional courses for all ages, children through senior adults, as well as customized training for business and industry. OLLI@ BSC is a community of adults, age 50 and above, who explore new areas of knowledge and traditional disciplines while meeting new friends through courses, lectures and events.

For a list of upcoming classes, visit our Continuing Education pages.