Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Wed, 28 Jul 1993

Why is it that we seldom think in terms other than "either/or:" either we are student oriented or subject oriented; either we are involved in process or in content; either we concentrate on a student's intellect or the student's character; either we value an education for its vocational goals or it loftier ends of self-development; and so on? Surely, with all of our teaching experience, our concern and our learning, we could be sufficiently creative and imaginative to do in all at once. Let me tell you what I mean. One assignment I have in my freshman history class is for the students to read Andrew Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth," discuss it among the triads and then come to class prepared to discuss the issue of whether Carnegie, the robber baron, was a moral person. In a one hour class, the students, with little help from me, bounced all over the place discussing, raising questions, debating, arguing, disagreeing, almost fighting each other over such matters as: a definition of morality; the subjectivity or objectivity of morality; business practices and ethics; charity; individuality; social responsibility of government; capitalism; science and society; unionism; welfare; Republicans and Democrats; government regulation vs. laissez faire; evolution; and something called "traditional American values." True, the thoughts were partial, but that was o.k.; the ideas were incomplete, but that was o.k.; and the supporting evidence was lacking, but that was o.k. There was thinking out loud, but that was o.k. There were no clear, finished, supported thoughts, but that, too, was o.k. It only was their first step towards uttering a competed thought in a convincing manner. I think they were surprised with themselves when they left class. There was no "either/or" in this class, only "many/and." There was knowing, thinking, doing, feeling, and asking; there was self-confidence, diminished fear, honesty, self-esteem, etc.. In other words, there was content, process, character, and value that had vocational and aesthetic applications. I don't know what the lasting influence of this class might be. But, I do want to believe that classes such as these can serve the students in all their professional, vocational, personal and societal walks of life. If I'm right, all it takes is effort, concern, creativity, and imagination. That's enough.

Make it a good day.


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

Return to The Complete Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier
Return to the Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier
Return to Arbor Heights Elementary School