He walks into class with a smile of recognition for every one of his students. Pacing the front of the room, he sips his tea to fuel the fired-up energy he has on a daily basis.
James Wicks, a film studies, literature, and Chinese professor at PLNU, has been a student favorite on campus for ten years. “I try to create an environment in my classroom where every question or emotion is possible. I don’t want to only be known as nice, but for there to be substance,” said Wicks.
He holds a high score on Rate My Professor, a review site that allows college students to assign ratings to professors based on their teaching skills, grading style and overall performance. A number of students feed off of his positive energy and originality during his lectures. “He is incredibly creative,” said Carmen Flores-Lopez, a sophomore literature english-education major. “I feel like I am in an art class in the way that he teaches. He cares about what he is doing, it’s very obvious.”
Wicks is anything but the average university professor. His hobbies include skateboarding, surfing and writing books (he has written two). He has been teaching for 15 years, including teaching English for a few years in Taiwan, where he grew up.
Whether he is taking his students on what he calls his “musical journeys,” or pacing the front of the classroom with an unbelievable amount of energy, his teaching style turns heads. “He really tries hard to keep his lectures fresh and updates his lesson plans to contextualize them for a modern audience,” said Flores-Lopez.
Many students recognize the ability to update teaching methods as technology progresses to be one of Wicks’ specialty because he utilizes his knowledge of film and cinema throughout the rest of his courses as well.
“His teaching is rapid-fire. He goes through the material quickly, but he has a way of making it fun and creative,” said Breann Wong, a senior literature english-education major. “He has helped me broaden my perspective on what literature is.” Wong has had Wicks as her advisor during her four years at PLNU and has taken his classes on Post-Colonial literature, film, and Chinese.
Carol Blessing, the Department Chair and professor at PLNU says she would describe him in one word: energetic. “I was in favor of hiring him and have sat in on a few of his classes. I would describe his teaching as very fast, but he keeps his students well-engaged and has a way of getting them all to contribute.”
Outside of class, Wicks can be found at any Asian film festival, hanging with his wife and children or surfing in the San Diego area.
Written by Point Loma Nazarene University journalism student, Hannah Kahl. l