Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Fri 6/14/2002 10:10 AM
Random Thought: Three-humped Camels

Yesterday afternoon, as I was subconsciously still going over a series of serious conversations I have had this past week, I found myself momentarily watching the U.S. Open. I don't know why I stopped at that channel. I am neither a golfer nor a particular golf fan. As an ex- collegiate soccer player, the World Cup is more my cup of tea than is the President's Cup. As good luck would have it, I caught some commentators and interviewees. Something they were saying struck me. They were talking about how the "best" were not being devoured by the "beast" of the Bethpage's Black Course. The difficult challenges and the daunting obstacles led them to adjust and adapt, to reach deeper and higher, to become--in my words--a club-wielding St. George.

Because of my discussions, those observations took me back to a Thomas Friedman op-ed piece that ran in the New York Times a few months ago. In it, Friedman had made a spoof comparison of golfers and the key players in the Middle East tragedy. No one in the sport of golf, he observed, is afraid of compromise or change. On the contrary, golf is a game where the very best players engage in never-ending self-criticism, self-reflection and self-correction, constantly adapting to changing conditions on a course, constantly adjusting to different conditions on different courses. That's all they talk about. Friedman observed that even the best golfers remain teachable. I would add that they are the best because they never lose that teachableness. There is a great haughty-eroding humility in that. They spend a lot of time looking at themselves in the mirror. They are always checking their swings, are constantly being coached, are constantly learning, are constantly practicing, unlike in the Middle East, where self-reflection and self-criticism are as common, in Friedman's words, as a three-hump camel.

When it comes to teaching, I wonder how we academics would fare if Friedman wrote a similar op-ed piece comparing golfers playing a course and us teaching a course. Just putt-ering around with a thought or two this dog-day of June.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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