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Highlighting the Research and Expertise of College of Charleston Professors

Professor Patrick Harwood
Department of Communication


Professor Renard Harris
Elementary Education

Professor Renard Harris

Blending with the Blues
By Brett Ricker

As a youngster growing up in Mississippi, Renard Harris sampled a variety of musical instruments. It was after college when he found it was the harmonica that would turn him "blue" with excitement. That's when his passion for blues music began to grow. He joined a local blues band where he began to write music and experience the culture.

For Harris, his passion for music would eventually be parralled by a passion for teaching.

Harris would go on to earn a liberal arts degree from St. Mary's University in San Antonio. He would later complete his doctorate at University of Tennesee.

He started his career as a middle school teacher, and then realized he wanted to expand his teaching ability and reach a larger array of students. As an education professor he feels he has more creativity and artistic freedom to offer his students. He encourages empowerment among his students and encourages them to overcome adversity in today's society.

Harris uses his passion for the Blues to develop his student's passion for knowledge. Common themes in the music can be used to better reach the students he teaches: how the Bluesman expressed their struggles and passions through music and sought to better their lives.

"The similar stories of individuals in dire situations that are rebellious, develops student interest in the material by creating a common ground in which their passion for that knowledge will grow," he says.

Harris approaches his teaching style with great imagination. He expresses how his unique style helps students absorb information through his idea of "blending narratives."

Harris explains his unique ability to help students understand: "By taking a validated story and meshing their own experiences and ideas to create a new story. This is the basic principle of blending narratives," he says.

He suggests that by incorporating oneself into the "validated story" it then becomes easier to absorb.

Harris is on the advisory committee for a program called Diverse Pathways, which seeks to offer non-traditional and minority students an opportunity to graduate from the College of Charleston after completing general requirements at another less expensive institution.

He hopes to expand the program by building a relationship with Trident Tech and getting more exposure of the benefits that the program has to offer.