Dr. Antoinette Miller on Life Lessons and Being a "Wacky Professor"


eCore professor Antoinette Miller (The Wacky Professor)
Drawing by Student of Dr. Miller

Dr. Antoinette Miller is currently a Professor of Psychology at Clayton State University, and is a popular professor for the USG eCore online program.

Why did you choose your field?
Initially, I was a Biology major (with a Neuroscience concentration) and as I got closer to graduation I realized I was more interested in humans than rats.  After I’d graduated with a degree in biology (and an additional degree in Classical Languages…no, really), switching to psychology (specifically physiological psychology) was an easy choice from there.

Why did you chose teaching?
I started teaching right after I defended my Masters in 1996, and realized after the first ROCKY semester (I stunk, really stunk bad) that I really enjoyed the interaction.  After graduating and then teaching part-time for another university, when we landed in Georgia I started looking for teaching positions, and happened to see the one I still hold in (of all places) the AJC jobs ad page.   I’ve never looked back, and am finishing my 12th year at Clayton State this Spring.

If you could do one thing over in your life, what would it be?
I would have minored in Psychology – I only took *2* undergraduate psychology courses (and neither of them was intro!) so I had some catching up to do when I hit graduate school.  I can’t think of much else…I’m pretty happy with how things have turned out in most aspects of my life. 

If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
That’s a toss up between Isaac Asimov (he was the first exposure I’d had to someone with a PhD who was also incredibly creative) and Sherlock Holmes (also a childhood idol).  I realize that would be difficult since one is fictional and one is deceased.  Both of them represent different ways of thinking, and I respect that immensely.

What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life?
That there is no such thing as finishing or perfecting something like teaching.  It changes from year to year, and that’s part of the reason why I like it so much.  Also to never sacrifice core parts of yourself for your work – that’s another reason why I cherish teaching so much…it allows me to express my creative funkier side in ways that can benefit both me and my students.
In fact, this applies to most things – nothing is ever finished.  Just when you think it’s done, there’s more to do.  That’s both good and bad (but I tend to try to see it as “good”).

What is it that you absolutely couldn’t live without?
My family.  No matter how stressful the day job becomes, they’re always there.

What do you still want to accomplish?
I have dream projects in which I’d marry two of my “hobbies” (Doctor Who and Marvel comics) into my field.  I’m working on that…so stay tuned!

If your life were a movie, what would the title be?
“The Wacky Professor”

How do you think education changes lives?
Education equips people to handle situations, inside and outside of the classroom – or at least, it has the potential to.

How do you feel about current online courses?
I’ve been teaching online for 10 years now – a lot has changed from those days and I think they’ve improved vastly in the amount and quality of interactions between faculty and student (and student and student).  But like my answer to a previous question nothing is ever perfect or truly finished – and so what I do like about my experiences to date both with eCore and my home institution is that the design and implementation of these online courses is still a dynamic process (not a static one).

What differences have you noticed between online education and face-to-face classes?
It depends on the class and the people in it - -I’ve taught face-to-face classes where some students have never once interacted directly with me (despite my best efforts) and have online classes where students that I never saw (or even spoke to, really) were as interactive and engaged with me as someone sitting in the front row every day.  Each term is different, both on my side of the desk (screen) and theirs.

How will students use what they learn in your online classes?
Psychology is really a part of so many things that we do – whether it’s using persuasion to market, or to be able to understand why your three year old is standing between you and the TV and just doesn’t SEEM TO GET THEY ARE IN THE WAY, or to ultimately (with proper training) counsel and support people in crisis.  I hope if nothing else the students will gain a sense of how valuable it is to at least try to understand how people differ from each other (while still being predictable in many ways)  and how that applies to so many different contexts.

To sign up for eCore online courses in the University System of Georgia, vist us at ecore.usg.edu or give us a call at 855-93ECORE. We are here to help.

2 comments:

Kokila said...

Thank you so much, Antoinette, for sharing your thoughts. As always, your writing brings such joy and pure fun! Thanks again!

Karen L said...

Wow! You sound fun, engaging, and interesting!! As a recent adult student in a Master's program, I craved an instructor with your style and class! eCore is lucky to have you...
Thanks for your service!