Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mid-quarter, Sort-er

I had pretty good classes today; in both, students were reasonably engaged and willing to play along, but even so, this still feels like the familiar part of the quarter, about halfway through, when I’m the one who has to do all the heavy lifting.

Sure, I know that’s what they pay me the big bucks for as I belly up at the public trough for another eleven weeks of your tax dollars at work, but still, I do get that feeling, from time to time, that I used to experience on stage as a standup comic when, casting cultured pearls before—not exactly swine, but I wouldn’t exactly say Nobel laureates, either—I would get all like, “Hey! These are the jokes, folks,” you know?

I do my best to develop and present interactive learning experiences designed to awaken philosophical thinking in young people and sometimes, it does happen. Today, I kept getting sparks, but it was almost like the wood was wet or something; little flare-ups of discussion that kind of petered out; maybe it’s the phase of the moon or something.

Contrast that with this kind of amazing conversation I had with a guy on the street and then on the bus out to Cascadia; his name was Aru and he was willing to call himself, as he moved through the world, a “philosopher,” even though I’m pretty sure he didn’t have an academic appointment anywhere. We talked almost non-stop for nearly an hour, covering everything from the state of public education in America to whether or not it makes sense to conceive of human beings as embodied spirits, a view I, of course, rejected, but which he was willing to entertain in a relatively non-dogmatic way.

Carrying on like that is more than a little bit exhausting, exhilarating as it can be; I admit I wasn’t entirely displeased to head off into the classroom where the intensity of discourse wasn’t quite so high.


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