Professor Freeman’s guest speaker approach to teaching


Contributed by David Freeman

One of David Freeman's favorite quotes is by Mr. Rodgers, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news my mother would say look for the helpers, you will always find people who are helping..." This resonates with Freeman because he has considered himself a helper and facilitator throughout his childhood as a middle child, and has carried it into his everyday life.

Katie Walsh, Managing Editor

Every Wednesday, David Freeman begins his Jazz Music History class with a circle of students playing rhythms on their drum sticks. This is just one of the ways he is redefining higher education through increasing hands-on and experiential learning. 

Freeman is a professor in the Media, Communications and Visual Arts Department (MCVA) for Pace. He is in his third semester at Pace and taught classes such as: How the Entertainment Industry Works, Writing for the Print Media, Public Speaking and Jazz Music History.

He likes to bring guest speakers into his classrooms to give students the chance to hear success stories of others in the field. 

 “These experts offer perspective and share experiences and it really helps to engage our learners,” explained Freeman. 

Freeman was originally hired to specialize in teaching the Jazz Music History. He heard about the available position through a mutual friend of his and the MCVA department chair Paul Ziek. Freeman’s interest in the course led him to join Pace’s team.

In the past, the Jazz course was taught by an English professor, but once that professor left the university, the course integrated into the MCVA department.

Freeman began playing music as a teenager and took private lessons outside of school, since the school system he attended did not offer music programs during the day. In his spare time, he would play in bands in basements with his friends. In addition, he always had a passion for writing his own music. 

Freeman’s passion for music led him to pursue a music minor in college. However, he majored in Anthropology. 

“I decided to become an Anthropology major because, for me, that was a really holistic way to experience school and a holistic subject that integrated all of the things I was interested in,” Freeman said. “Human history, psychology, and culture.” 

After college, Freeman kept up with his passion of playing and making music. However, he also began teaching at a variety of different schools as a way to earn income. Freeman utilizes his artistic background to shape his teaching style and create an experience for his students.

 “I hope that I’m able to challenge that traditional University classroom setting by integrating pedagogy that engages the learners through experiential learning and activity based learning,” Freeman said.

One way Freeman encourages this in his classroom is by including field trip opportunities and bringing in a variety of guest speakers to his classroom. 

Freeman tries to bring in at least three to four different speakers to some of his classes to create a variety in the classroom. Many of the guest speakers he brings in are people that are involved in his network. However, some of them are recommendations from others in his network, or if fitting, Freeman will cold-call someone if he thinks they are essential to the class content. 

Sophomore Marissa Serena, who currently takes Jazz Music History and Public Speaking with Freeman, says the guest speakers create another layer of learning.

“It brings in a new perspective to the class, along with our professors own knowledge and experiences,” Serena said. “The guest speakers bring in props to show and explain to the class.”

A key part of many of the guest speakers conversations is the explanation of their life journey and how they arrived at their current place in life and in the industry. These lectures correlate with  Freeman’s perspective of life being about the journey, rather than the final product. 

“I am more concerned about creating a process for us all to experience that leads us to be more civically and socially mindful and engaged and more mature human beings. More so than it is about spitting out facts and figures.”

In addition, Freeman hopes his classes inspire students to find their own interests in the cultural arts and encourages them to explore their interests throughout their lifetime.