Beck Center 3019
300 North Broadway
Lexington, KY 40508-1797
Phone: (859) 281-3505
e-mail Saori Hanaki
“One of the essential roles of a teacher is to help students establish meaningful connections between the subject matter and the student’s personal experience and ideas.”
Saori Hanaki is a perfect example of someone who has successfully integrated her professional and her personal interests. As a four-time Ironman triathlon finisher, she knows a little something about endurance training and the importance of efficient energy output, as well as the injuries that can thwart your dreams.
Exercise science is her passion and her career. She applies its principles every day as she trains and as she plans or analyzes her research. She has first-hand knowledge of the biomechanics behind an efficient swim stroke or pedal stroke. And, because she’s a competitor, she’s always thinking about what she can change to improve her performance.
Therefore, it’s no surprise to hear Hanaki talk about the importance of teaching and learning being authentic. From her perspective, being “book smart” alone is of little use if you cannot apply what you know to real-life situations. Once you learn how to connect something from your own experience to something you learn in a classroom or a lab, then you’re on the path to becoming a lifelong learner. The material is no longer abstract for you. It’s real. And that’s what makes it interesting.
While Hanaki stresses the importance of finding a personal connection to the material you’re studying, she also understands the value of learning from others. As a professor, she relishes the opportunities she has to learn from her students.
“Teaching and learning is a two-way street. I enjoy getting to know my students, and I also like that my students get to know me. Sharing ideas and knowledge helps us all grow. I always look forward to learning something new from them.”
Hanaki’s current goal is to run a marathon in every state. With 39 to go, she’ll have plenty of opportunity to see more of her adopted country. And the training required will inevitably provide her with new insights into the “human machine” and the puzzles we have yet to solve. That should set her up for a lifetime of creative problem-solving, foot strike after foot strike.
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