Musing over Cave Art

5 x 7″ watercolor sketch. $100 matted

I am posting yesterday’s watercolor sketch with no changes. Looking at it repeatedly throughout today, I have decided to sign off on it, leaving it to look more like a primitive cave wall rendering. That was not my original plan. But over the years I have destroyed so many promising starts to watercolors by carrying them through to their preconceived destinies, overworking and ultimately killing them. I have decided I want this one to live. I think it is fresher as is. I can always begin another one and carry it to the conclusion I had planned for this one.

The rest of this Saturday was given over to grading the responses of my Humanities online class. I had thought that I would breeze through this process in 30 minutes, and I could have. But the responses were by far the best overall class contribution I have experienced in over 30 years of teaching. I read and re-read each submission and wrote extensive comments back to each student, and continually stopping to scribble out ideas in my personal journal. I then sent out an email to the class that I meant from the heart:

Humanities students,

Today I will introduce our next Discussion Board topic, an article from Immanuel Kant. Since the day is already well underway, I will make the deadline for this new assignment Sunday instead of next Saturday, giving you a little more than a week to complete.

What I am about to say is genuine. Teaching since 1985, I have never encountered a university class dialogue as rich as the one just completed. Seriously. I posted comments on the grade page of every single one of you because I wanted the comments to be private with you instead of read on the threads by everyone. I have never witnessed such a start to a university (or high school) course. And I pray it will continue. Immanuel Kant was a great mind and the article I assign will be shorter than Bruni’s but it may require more studied concentration. But it will be worth it, and I believe will dovetail nicely with what Bruni has started in us. 

I don’t say this lightly–no class before you has responded to the Bruni article with the maturity and interest that you provided. For that I thank you from the heart. For over ten years now, I’ve wondered whether or not I was teaching my final semester. And with that wonder came the question of whether or not the class would leave a meaningful memory. Well . . . based on what just happened, I almost wish that there would not be a semester after this one! Hours ago, I thought I would blow through this discussion grading in less than half an hour. As it turned out, I spent over 3 1/2 hours, because I could not stop pausing, re-reading, getting out my personal journal and scribbling insights and responses you offered, and then writing notes to all of you. What you have here is very special, a genuine university-level dialogue, a community of scholars, an artists’ cafe. You have so much to learn from each other as well as the great minds we will be studying. I truly anticipate a great semester of Humanities study together with you, thank you for such a beginning.


David Tripp

Thank you for reading.

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2 Responses to “Musing over Cave Art”

  1. Dian Darr Says:

    How wonderful to have a class that responds so well and is so engaged in the topic! This is such a rare occurrence! What a great start to the semester!


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