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"Beyond Words: Dave Hunt to Leave Teaching after 50 years"

After 35 years at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, it's time to leave, says Professor Emeritus David Hunt.  Hunt, now 77, actually retired some years ago but stayed on to teach part-time and continue his research into "the human venture".  After 50 years of university teaching - first in psychology at Yale and Syracuse, then in applied psychology at OISE, and finally in adult education, community development and counselling psychology at OISE/UT - what insights has he gleaned about his profession?

He developed what he calls five "stingers" that make up a credo applicable to teaching, learning and every day living.  The first stinger is his belief that "every person is a psychologist" able to find knowledge within, based on their own experiences; the second is that sharing that first-hand knowledge with others can lead to greater understanding and a sense of renewal - just the thing to ward off professional burnout.

Hunt's third stinger, on display every time he teaches a class or leads a workshop, is that actions speak louder than words.  IF, he explains, his actions don't exemplify what he's talking about, none of his words will matter.  That ties in with his fourth stinger: that creating a climate of trust is the first priority in any teaching-learning interaction.

"I call my students colleagues because we're exploring the human venture together,: he says.  "I respect and honour their experience.  I think that has meant a great deal."

It certainly has meant a great deal to his colleagues: one observer described a recent musical tribute to Hunt's 50 years of university teaching (and 20 years of playing alto sax) as a "love-in."

"He is an absolutely outstanding teacher," says Professor Mary Beattie.  "He is totally inspiring to every student who comes in contact with him."

His accomplishments have been achieved with the support of others, says Hunt, especially his wife and the institute itself which has allowed him to take his work in the directions he wanted to explore.

"It was not an easy decision to make.  I just decided it was time," he says of leaving teaching, noting that he still plans to meet with individual students and continue writing.

The final, perhaps the most cherished stinger in Hunt's credo is "honour the mystery," his belief that them most important features of the human venue are often unnamable, beyond words.  He found himself moved beyond words into tears recently when his colleagues unveiled a new award in his honour, the Dave Hunt Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching at OISE/UT/

"It's everything a person could want at the end of a career," he says.

by Jessica Whiteside, University of Toronto Bulletin #6, June 30, 2003

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Dave Hunt -  Summer 2003