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Professor finds joy in teaching through psychology

Rachel Norris

CRC professor of psychology James Frazee finds joy in teaching the varied subjects under the umbrella of psychology, including human sexuality.

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One of the many jobs in life that go without major recognition, is that of a teacher. The often underrated professors at the community college level receive little praise, despite the fact that most teachers are there for the passion of teaching. Amongst those teachers is James Frazee.

Frazee is a psychology professor at Cosumnes River College, and has been teaching at CRC since the fall 2009.

It was his experience teaching neuropsychology at Brooklyn College that led him to become a full time teacher. Frazee filled in for a teacher who had lyme disease. On the first day teaching the class, Frazee had an “aha” moment, and knew that he would be teaching for the rest of his life.

After applying for a position at several community colleges, Frazee secured a job at CRC. Despite his extensive education, Frazee chose to teach at the community college level, citing the class environment as motivation to do so.

“Community colleges allow professors to focus on pedagogy and teaching and becoming excellent in the craft of delivering material messages to students,” Frazee said.

Frazee teaches biological psychology, introductory statistics for the behavioral sciences, and human sexuality. The varied courses pose different challenges, but Frazee finds joy in teaching all of the subjects.

The statistics class presents difficulties for students, often bringing in poor test scores after the first two exams. However, Frazee takes pride in encouraging students to commit to the course, and put in the work to pass the final.

“When I asked him to come to office hours, when I asked him to show up and do more work, when I asked him to study in a group, he did all of those things. This [test] I graded last night, he got minus two on the entire exam,” Frazee said about a student who struggled with the course initially.

Human sexuality creates a different environment for Frazee to teach in. “Students have misinformation about it, yet they’re totally interested in it.”

Frazee is faced with the challenge of taking down the misinformation about human sexuality, while teaching his students to be “skeptical about things that they’re told, and how to use academic rigor to understand things about their personal lives that can benefit them in the future.”

Frazee never talks about his personal experiences in his class so as to model the attitude he wants to impart upon the students. He wants them to treat sex as a sacred act between two people, something that is private.

Students in Frazee’s class appreciate the way that he approaches a topic as sensitive as human sexuality. “He touches on something that most people don’t know of, or are afraid to talk about, and he approaches it in a way that is tactful,” said Reilly Selk, a 20-year-old student with an undeclared major.

Due to the controversial nature of the class, Frazee has faced opposition, not from students, but from fellow staff members.

“It’s disheartening, and somewhat confusing,” Frazee said. “I’m glad that it’s me that’s experiencing it, because I’ll use that as motivation and a challenge, because not only is it my goal to educate my students, but also some of my colleagues.”

In spite of discouragement from other faculty members, Frazee plans to stay loyal to CRC. Comparing the school to a relationship with a partner, the pros outweigh the cons for Frazee.

“Whenever you get in a relationship with a person, you have your pros, and your cons,” Frazee said. “But I’m committed to the relationship with the college. I’m not going to divorce it; I’m going to teach here until I’m too senile to find the building.”

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Professor finds joy in teaching through psychology