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Bemidji State professor Mark Christensen publishes book reflecting on his years in the classroom

Bemidji State Professor Mark Christensen’s 46 years in the classroom have certainly given him much to reflect on.

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Bemidji State Professor Mark Christensen’s newest book, “Reflections on Teaching, A Passion for Learning,” looks back on his 46 years in the classroom. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
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BEMIDJI -- Bemidji State Professor Mark Christensen’s 46 years in the classroom have certainly given him much to reflect on.

Published Nov. 30, his newest book, “Reflections on Teaching, A Passion for Learning,” looks back on his teaching experiences since starting as a high school English teacher before transitioning to BSU in 1990.

More specifically, he analyzes these experiences in hopes that prospective teachers, or anyone who reads for that matter, can make better sense of the upheaval that the COVID pandemic has caused in education.

“Current teachers have experienced a crisis in education and a toxic burden that seems unsolvable in its scope,” a release said.

Broken up into 23 reflections, two essays, occasional poetry and additional information for aspiring educators, Christensen covers a wide array of topics ranging from distance learning to method classes and first impressions to student welfare.

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All of these topics share a common thread as “emotional underpinnings of the classroom relationships” which extend beyond the curriculum that’s being taught.

“We are all teachers. We can’t help it. We teach just by living, by interacting with others. By setting examples, good or bad," Christensen said. "Some teaching is more intentional of course, as parents teach children about safety, morals and hygiene; as coaches teach athletic skills and thought patterns."

The reflections are not arranged chronologically, at least Christensen doesn't intend for them to be read that way.

“This book is not intended to be a lecture or even a book to be read from beginning to end, though I invite you to do so,” he added before detailing what the book is really about.

“It isn’t even a book about how to teach, as that is far too large an aspiration for me to attempt," he explained. "It is meant to be a book to be opened to any random page in hopes that the reflection you fall upon is one you can build upon as you develop your own presence in your own life.”

Christensen has established his own presence over the years.

A Bemidji native, Christensen currently serves as chair of the Bemidji State English Department and teaches classes in English education, composition, rhetoric, poetry and creative nonfiction.

He found it important for himself to continue learning amongst his teaching experiences. Christensen has earned degrees in all of the aforementioned areas, and his most recent educational achievement came in 2013 when he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music from BSU -- he sings in musicals and theatre productions in his downtime including Bemidji’s annual Opera Night performances.

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His other published works include two collections of poetry, one of which, “Faith in Ice Time,” was among 45 finalists for the Minnesota Book Awards in 1998. He has also published a textbook on essay writing and more than 50 individual essays and poems.

Christensen performs regular readings of his creative writing including at the Minnesota Arts Council’s Spoken Word series held in Bemidji and BSU’s Honors Council lecture series.

Signed copies of Christensen’s book can be purchased by contacting Birchtree Books at (218) 751-7722 .

Daltyn Lofstrom is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on education and community stories.
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