BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET)— On a Tuesday morning at Bismarck State College, the door closes and Jason Matthews starts teaching. Matthews is an adjunct political science instructor. He began teaching in 2008 but says political science wasn’t his first choice on the ballot.
“I thought I was going to go into broadcast journalism actually,” Matthews said. “And I took one class. I had one professor at UND, Ronald Pin, and I took his ‘Introduction to American Government’ class and that was it.”
Matthew’s interest grew from there, at one point taking on a Congressional internship, working in student affairs, as well as on a political campaign. He also worked at an advertising agency and then branched out on his own, opening JM Strategies LLC in 2013, focusing on consulting, strategic planning, focus groups and research. “But I’ve always kept teaching. I always clear my schedule, so that my Tuesdays and Thursdays I can come in and teach,” Matthews said.
However, the classroom doesn’t keep him closed in. “Democracy’s messy. It is the messiest form of government there is, but it’s also the best form of government,” Matthews noted. There are many reasons he said he feels that way, including being encouraged by the process of listening to other ideas, sometimes diametrically opposed, and working together to find a solution.
Getting that message across is why he continues passing along political knowledge. “I think the highest duty of any political science professor right now or any teacher right now teaching government in this environment that we’re in right now is to ensure that our citizens are informed,” Matthews explained.
“I’ve actually learned quite a bit in here,” BSC Freshman Medora Ellingson said. Though she admits she took it just for the credit, Ellingson said it’s remarkable how much she’s learned about politics. “He kind of challenges our views and so when we go out into the real world, we can see that we’re not just aligning with our parents or somebody that we grew up with and we actually stand firm in our beliefs,” Ellingson said.
“I’m sitting in my seat and I’m thinking: ‘Am I really correct about this issue?'” BSC Sophomore Jayden Fajardo explained. Fajardo wants to become a lawyer and says knowing the ins and outs of how politics work will be a big help. He said there’s a lot to take in and his teacher helps keep him engaged. “He’s funny. I mean, he goes really in-depth, too, and really makes us think. Professor Matthews is a great teacher. Everyone needs to learn how to think and this class is just awesome,” Fajardo said.
Yet politics isn’t all consuming for the teacher of this awesome class. “[I] curl up with a good book or watch a ball game, spend time with my daughters, my wife,” Matthews said.
Matthews doesn’t need to be taught that life is good. “[My] girls are in school doing well, business is doing well and I get to come here and share my passion for politics and try to create engaged and thoughtful, critically thinking citizens. I’m good,” Matthews said.