Twice a week, 300 MU students crowd in Allen Auditorium to hear Shana Porteen’s lecture on inequalities in sports seen through her sociological lens. Porteen’s Sociology of Sport class is not popular just because of the topic. It’s popular because of the professor, too.
“The class provides a free market of ideas where they are exchanged in a way that helps people to think critically about their past experiences,” said David Pham, a former student. “I really enjoyed applying sociological concepts and theories onto my athletic career.”
Porteen, 31, is excited to be teaching a subject matter important to society.
“To teach is to learn twice,” Porteen said.
She said she thinks an important dynamic of teaching is providing students with an opportunity to engage in the day’s discussion. This dialogue, Porteen said, will help the students become critical thinkers, not only on issues related to sport, but in other areas as well.
Pham said Porteen creates an environment where students want to come to class — they are engaged by her ability to use current events and by her humor.
Porteen said she is not a “system person” who allows students to shuffle through her class. Her goal is to get the students to engage and learn the material, along with gaining critical thinking skills. She doesn’t pander to the grade, she said.
“Success is not measured by people failing my class,” Porteen said.
In the future, she said, she would love to be involved in helping athletes deal with injuries and their sport identity. Porteen, who has a master’s degree in sociology from Oklahoma State University, enjoys all sports, but says it is difficult for her to remove the sociological cap and just be a fan. In her spare time she likes being outdoors, camping, fishing and playing with her dogs.