Quality Reflection

solitude

In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The weekend euphoria has pursued me into Monday morning, back at work. While in the halls, I was stopped by two students requesting a brief interview to be videotaped cold. I was told that I would respond to a “deep” question. The video began, and I was asked: “If you could repeat any day of your past, what would you do differently?”

That stumped me, and the camera rolled for awhile in silence. I was told afterward that four teachers could not offer any response. Finally, I knew what I wanted to say:

“If I could repeat my day of declaring a major for my Ph.D., I would choose to major in Philosophy rather than New Testament.”

“Why?”

“As a New Testament major, I memorized an ocean of facts, and entertained no thoughts. And I got away with it. Philosophy majors were challenged to think independently, critically, to question authorities and sources. They thought creatively, analytically, synthetically. They thought ouside the box. As an artist, I regard myself as a creative person, visually. As a philosopher, I feel I could have been more creative, intellectually.”

I told the two students afterward that I deeply appreciated being challenged to think that one through. I believe it was Hawthorne who gave up teaching, claiming that a teenager could not challenge an adult teacher to grow intellectually. I’m not sure where he was coming from, but I have always disagreed. As teachers, we have been poked and prodded throughout my decades of experience to challenge the students to “higher order thinking skills”, yet I always wondered why “teacher training” (and there have been myriad hours of that) almost never pushed me to the edge of the envelope. Yet, my students in class, with their honest questions, have repeatedly called me to task, inciting me to back up, look at the data again, re-think the arrangement of the arguments, and often revise my positions. The classroom has been the arena for intellectual challenge and growth.

Thanks to a pair of students in the hall, this Monday has proved to be better than most.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Quality Reflection”

  1. Xraypics Says:

    What a wonderful and challenging question. I have studied and taught in medicine since the 1960s and see a profound change in student outlook. Years ago medical students were challenged to “know everything” of course that was impossible, but there was a lot less to know in the subject then. However they read widely and thought about the person that was the patient. Now I challenge my students on subjects other than “the facts” and they glaze over…. if it isn’t going to be examined, they aren’t interested. I generalise, but the shift worries me.
    To your question… the subtext is “if you knew then, what you know now”. Choices are made when a series of factors coincide. They are computed, and like any mathematical calculation, an error can be made either as a result of poor logic, or ignorance of one or more component in the calculation. But, the answer seems right at the time. It isn’t until subsequent events illuminate the choice that you know if it’s correct. Or not.
    As to my response… I’m going to think about it.
    Cheers! Have a great day, and I enjoyed your exhibition review. Wish I’d been there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you for that thoughtful, reasoned response, Tony. I am delighted to read somebody taking that post seriously. I do believe my decision was based on the best circumstances of the time. Of course I had no way of seeing into the future, and realizing as I do now that a different course could have been better. I am still glad that I was educated in the New Testament scriptures. But I do wish now that there had been some stress on creative thinking while I was pursuing it. Thank you again for your comments. And thank you for reading my review.

      Liked by 2 people

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