Testimonial: Free Thinking and Macroeconomics

The following was written by my former student, Bassima El Masri:

It is with great and humbling pleasure that I write today about professor Kevin D. Rollins.

We were twenty lucky students who took his macroeconomics class in November 2011 at NOVA-Annandale. I was the only actual professor seated as a student. What was at stake for me was not only a subject with which I was totally unfamiliar coming from a language and literature background; it was my double-mirror perception and status surrounded by students in their late teens and early twenties. It was incumbent on me to disappear under the mask of a newbie to economics and its vernacular; in my capacity as an actual educator though, I had to assume an implicit leadership role by making sure things get down equitably right for all parties involved and that I learned about a different teaching style. No matter how non-conformist I thought I was, I found I was in awe with how Mr. Rollins delivered his teaching, or better yet, accomplished his mission. Educate the students he did.

In a decade still submerged with the 2008 financial phenomenon, there wasn’t a template that could grab interested attention of young people whose belief solely was in the non-accuracy of the common, public discourse. Professor Rollins appealed to this thinking by exposing his students to a variety of facts, big and small, media-spread and quasi-understood, while adamantly denying himself the ease of taking sides. When professor Rollins chooses to expose his students to lines of thought, to diverse views and to a colorful literature available to the seasoned inquisitive mind, he does so by listening to his students. It is always based on the contribution by a student that professor Rollins elaborates, by opening more doors than (ever) closing off topics. Ideas were always under construction; conclusions were always a prompt for yet another dialectical conversation.

Any school caring to shape free thinking minds; to harness the Sense of Self of its students; to throw its graduating population in situations exactly like the ones with which life abounds these days; to make sure its graduates would hold one specific teacher in conversations in years to come about how avant garde that experience was, should hire Kevin D. Rollins as a guarantor of mind-blowing educational experiences.

There were only very few experiences in my life (as an eternal student and as a rather demanding educator) where the authentic free thinking guideline was faithfully observed. Professor Rollins’s class was one of them. Obviously this non-conventional method unsettles and boggles the structure- and template-hungry learners. It is therefore very important to let candidates for this class know what they are getting into in order to raise their awareness: this is not a class where you are told what to do, when and how; this is a class where you explore your options by coming up with the latter. The professor does not scatter around some shadows of free-thinking intervals; he dumps you in a pool of reflective thought right away. This is a class where the professor does not put you under the spotlight to test you on your reading assignments. It is by sitting there passively in the midst of shooting-starts kind-of debates that you reveal your tardiness and lagging behind. There will be times when Mr. Rollins rolls his sleeves up for such debates, only enough for you to realize that planet Earth keeps its revolution while you are pondering your participation in what A and B students were getting at! There are days where he willingly “withdraws” completely, allowing “society” to manage itself and witness the invisible hand at work!

–Bassima El Masri