Friday, November 03, 2006

The home of the brave

One of the benefits of being a professor is that you get to work with and hear from really smart and interesting people. On Wednesday, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald (best known for his Sept. 12 column "We'll Go Forward from This Moment"--I bet you saw it at the time, even if you don't remember it now) gave Grady's annual McGill Lecture and took us all to task for not being brave enough in the wake of 9/11. It was gutsy and inspiring, and I was disappointed that so few students were there to hear it. (Of well over 200 in attendance, I would estimate that only a few dozen were under 21.) Grady hosted another speaker earlier this semester, Dr. David Mindich of St. Michael's University, who similarly took us all (but especially young people) to task for not following the news, being alert to threats to civil liberties, or defending our rights. He went so far as to drop the f-bomb (that would be fascism) into the conversation.

Taking advantage of opportunities to hear from interesting speakers, and being challenged by their words, seems so important to me now that it's hard not to get mad at students for not seeing it the same way. But then, when I was 20, I didn't pay attention to lectures unless some professor attached a grade to it. I wish that had not been the case. I wish my students could learn from my experience. And I really wish I could come up with a way to teach them to see that it matters more than football, parties, and even grades.

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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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