Sunday, April 15, 2007

SUPER-DUPER TEACHER: PROFESSOR JODI MAGNESS

I'm delighted to come across this article about Professor Jodi Magness. Jodi has spoken twice to our Archaeological Associates of Greenwich. It's a pleasure to come across a teacher such as Jodi. Watch for her on TV -- possibly on the Discovery Channel -- if you can't hear her at the University of North Carolina.

While some people have a hard time memorizing a five-minute speech, professor Jodi Magness can talk passionately about religious studies for more than an hour - without using so much as a note card. Recently about 200 students, some of whom resorted to sitting on the floor listened intently as Magness narrated a tale about the Roman siege of Masada.

"You constantly want to know what she's going to say next," said freshman Ben Liebtag, who is taking 'New Testament Archaeology' with Magness. Magness, who has been teaching at the University for five years, said she knew she wanted to become an archaeologist at age 12 and dedicates all of her spare time to learning about the subject.

"That's pretty much what I do 24/7," said Magness, who has a bachelor's degree in archaeology and ancient history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a doctorate degree in classical archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania. She said she hopes to retire doing exactly what she does now - digging for ancient artifacts and writing and teaching about archaeology.

Magness, who has written four books about archaeology, spends her summers in Israel digging for ancient artifacts. Students said she is so passionate and knowledgeable about the subject that they sometimes have a trouble keeping up while taking notes.

And her credentials make her class a one-of-a-kind experience. Magness said she is the only person in the U.S. with a doctorate degree in classical archaeology who has a full-time appointment in a religious studies department. Magness gained most of her teaching experience as a professor at Tufts University for 10 years. Although she said coming to UNC from Boston was a big transition, it didn't take long for her to adjust.

"Jodi Magness is wonderful in every shape and form," said one student. "She's on the Discovery Channel every other day. It's a privilege being in the same room with her."

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