Philosophy of Education

I went to school to learn. That may seem self-evident. It should be self-evident. But it is not.

As I reflect back, I see that many of my colleagues did not go to school to learn–at least, that was not their primary objective. I remember asking one of my Harvard English professors why it was that hardly anybody in class asked questions or even spoke. The distressing reason was that the students wanted to make a good impression on their professor. Silence is less risky than asking a question that could indict the interlocuter. But I asked a lot of questions when I didn’t understand something, or when I disagreed with an interpretation. I was less concerned with the way I looked than I was concerned with learning.

I remember talking with a professor at a wine and cheese social. We were talking about students who try to ingratiate themselves with influential professors. It happened to be an influential professor I was talking to. He told me that it is so obvious when students try to do it. Then he exclaimed, “You’re not like that, David!” Never have been.

My academic major was not calculated to lead to a tenured faculty position. Were I interested in an academic career, I would have been an English major, or would have majored in scriptures, or ethics, or history, or any number of well-established academic disciplines. But I majored in religion and literature. There were only two major universities in the US that had religion and literature majors. Not a promising discipline to major in.

But I wanted to learn about modes that express meaning. I believe that two leading ways humanity has expressed meaning are religion and literature. I already had a B.A. in philosophy. I achieved my aim of learning about meaning. I learned about poetry and about religions and they taught me about meaning in life. And, more importantly, I learned how to continue my learning after school. And I continue to learn, even in these, my senior years.

I am not commending the path and approach I took to education. I was never tenured, never had much of an academic career. But I’m at a stage in life when many of my friends are done with their careers. So it’s all in the past with all of us. And, finally, in these my senior years, I am happy with the learning I have pursued and continue to pursue, and the subsequent life I have cultivated and now live.

OUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER IS TRUE

For both of us it’s been a trying year

My new med change, you lost your old career

I felt drowning in manic passion

You seemed overwhelmed with stress and fear

We stayed together despite desperation

We struggled but remained in relation

 

In hard times and in good times we still date

Regardless of the trouble on our plate

You are my support; I support you

As we accept—in fact, embrace—our fate

Our love runs deep through all that we go through

In ease, in strain, in everything we do

 

And now it seems we’re coming through our trials

Our grimaces are yielding into smiles

The psychic storm we both drove through is ceasing

Having churned through tempestuous miles

Our difficulty finally is easing

And pleasure in each other still is pleasing

NEURO-TRANSMITTERS, THEY THINK

Electric brain synapses neuro-transmitters

Opted me out of ordinary life, consensual truth, opts me out

Sleeping through the whole week-end

Paralysis of will, the psychiatrists call it

Soporific medicines sleepy pills slow my mind

Can’t remember the first Chen Tai-Chi form after five years

My disability doesn’t count

When employers, publishers, governments seek demographic statistics:

Gender, race, orientation, not my disability

But I’m opted out of social norms, structures

By motivation, mood, mentation, medication

CONFESSION:

Try though I do, my career interruptus

Staggering through the world as best I can

As best I have to because despite my disability

No one takes care of you

THE APOLLONIAN IDEAL

According to Nietzsche’s writing, my ideals would be called Apollonian

The Apollonian ideal according to which I live engenders

The isolation I have known

Sometimes despising it

Bare loneliness

Chasing learning, reading, practicing music, listening to music, writing

Pensive

All alone

Moving from one state to another

Across the borders of nations

Chasing schools, careers, saying goodbye

Assimilating the norms of new places

All alone, living alone, sleeping alone

Traveling alone—for business or edification, or it all

Times spent in solitude

Now enamored, in amour, estoy enamorado

Another soul in my solitude

Awakening love, awakened love, loving life, my life, the other

Loving even the Apollonian life I chose, choose still

In love with it all, enamorado de todo