Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Late Night Muses Stirring

September 11, 2015

imageIt is a common point from which I start; for there again and again I shall return.

Parmenides

Thursday has been a grinder of a day, rising at 5:00, entering my classroom by 5:55 and responding to the snarling grading deadline. Once classes were over, I continued to feed the beast until about 8:30 at night. Then, there was nothing reasonable to do but go out into the night and feed my soul.

A Bottle of Pellegrino, a Book and my Journal

A Bottle of Pellegrino, a Book, my Journal, and Fountains

How enchanted I feel with this balmy evening, listening to the swish of the fountains, live music pounding a few blocks away, the conversations and laughter of lovers at tables scattered across the plaza, but most of all–the echoes of Socrates from the mountains of Delphi, through the streets of Athens and finally down through the corridors of Fort Worth’s Sundance Square tonight. I feel the power of his ideas now as I pause for the first time throughout this lengthy (boring) day of grading and meeting school deadlines.

I try to distill the legacy of Socrates in a few statements: (1) the unexamined life is not worth living, (2) the answer lies within you, not in the books or the teachers or authority figures, (3) there are valid principles to follow in order to maintain a quality life, (4) leave nothing unexamined. Much of what this sage has left us has been fleshed out in the writings of Aristotle, Descartes and Emerson, and already I look forward to opening their ideas before my students later in the semester.

Teaching is my job, but what I am doing beside the fountain tonight is my life–a life of the mind, a contemplative life. This is the food that sustains my spiritual body and keeps me alive. Hopefully in tomorrow’s philosophy class I can share this moment in a meaningful way, but if not, I still harbor this treasure in my heart.

Thanks for reading.

An Artful Life

September 20, 2014

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue,  and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look,  which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the arts.
Henry David Thoreau,  Walden

Negative sentiments have no space in my day-to-day life since my last blog post. I only regret to write that this past week was packed to the point that I never stopped to post blogs, though my daily journal continually piled up pages of written expostulations-all of them running over with gratitude.

For manifold years, the daily task of teaching (for me) was a solitary enterprise, and the occasional student crossed my path outside the classroom,  and intellectual/spiritual bonding occurred. When the school term ended, over 90% of those relationships severed, and I just accepted that – life goes on.

Last year witnessed a change – a core of creative, passionate students found me and would not let go of me. Not only did they comprise several of my classes, they dropped in at lunch, after school, and showed up at every art festival where I was a participant.

I fully expected this year to revert to the way things were before these beautiful minds found me last year. Gratefully, it did not happen. I am overwhelmed now with the spirit of good will emanating from more individuals than ever before in any given school year. There are no words to describe this new sentiment. This experience is leading this old man to examine new ways of defining “Art” as people around me are showing me symptoms of a more “artful life”. So, with all my love, I send out my deepest thanks to last year’s “core” of enthusiastic learners who have changed my life profoundly.