Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Humanities

My friend and teacher turns 80 this month. He guides a group of acolytes, including me, in Middle English literature. He is a young 80, and his style of teaching is Socratic. We gather every week for the morning, and our curriculum is chosen with care to provide a broad understanding of the world as it is, not really, just as it was. All good literature of any age is contemporary. Some of us have finally come to experience the right brain as well ! The burden of largely left brain functioning over the years has now been put to rest! He is addressing, for us, the deficiency of the new world of technology that has cut out the humanities. I suppose that it is more out of necessity, due to the competitive edge needed to uber-succeed in one's vocation. Sadly the time and cost and stress of obtaining a higher education has led to this. We say facetiously, "The specialist knows more and more about less and less until he knows almost everything about nothing much! The generalist knows less and less about more and more until he knows almost nothing about everything! " This mentor has opened a new world for some of us, especially me. I spent a lifetime in the rat race and though I was, I profess, useful, I didn't look after the whole man. Now is my chance, though I'm not so blind as to think I can ever achieve wholeness! The teacher , I am sure, has mellowed since his active professorial years, but his Socratic style allows the initiates to develop critical thinking with wonder and discovery, rather than burdened with didactic instruction. Good literature leads to self discovery and good company leads to respect for diversity! May we continue to grow together.

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