Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Sun, 16 Jan 1994

My lord, it was cold out there this morning, really cold. My blue UNC hat got bluer from the chill. I came back from my walk and the dog was still frozen to a tree by a horizontal icicle! I'm talking about an eight degree wind chill factor! In south Georgia! It took me a long while to thaw out because the flames in the fireplace are frozen. Weather like this down here seems so out of place. The pristine, quiet solitude of a blanket of snow, the strong upright sticks of bared trees are missing. In their place, shriveling uncollected pecan nuts lie strewn about, semi-tropical plants are bent and shriveled, and there are the ever-present, messy pine needles.

Nevertheless, I was thinking about two sublime and reflective messages that I had read from Ray Rasmussen in Alberta and Len Van Roon in Manitoba. Isn't this electronic highway of communication marvelous? They generated a bunch of disjointed, really "random" thoughts that kept popping into my head like a series of exploding flashbulbs. Luckily, I found a ball point pen lying in the street. Call it kismet. By the time I came back from my walk, the palm and wrist of my frostbitten right hand looked like I had come out from a tatoo parlor. I'd like to share some of those thoughts as I try to translate my "writing-on-the walk," contort my right hand and peck-type with my left:

For a true evaluation of our classes and ourselves we would be better to look into the eye of each student, read each of their faces, and watch the tempo of their walk.

I love music and art and my flowers. I have found that playing the flute has helped me listen, which is different from hearing; my very occasional dabbling in sculpture has helped teach me to see, which is different from looking; my flowers have taught me to be quiet and reflect and feel, which is different from talking and posturing.

How we connect with each other on the electronic information highway is a very technological thing. How we use that connection and react to it is a very human thing.

How many of us by virtue of our position in the classroom have conditioned ourselves to a form of human inequality.

There is a vast difference between the privileges of being professors and professors being privileged characters.

Maybe the students aren't "dumb;" it's their schools that are "dumb."

I know a lot of "dumb" people who come out of college, and I know a lot of smart people who didn't go to college.

What makes education is not its jargon, its format, its techniques, its curriculum, but it's goals and purposes.

I sometimes think so many of us feel our educational system would be great if it weren't for the students.

Everyone thinks of changing education, but so few educators think of changing themselves.

Many of us give an up-front image for the students to break through rather than break through our own image and present our true selves to the students.

Before we wish to change anything in students or the educational system, we ought to first see if there's anything in ourselves that could be improved.

Why are so many of us troubled with feeling and so untroubled with thinking?

Human growth in our students does not stop at high school graduation. Human growth in professors does not stop with the receiving of the degree or the bestowal of the hood.

Why are so many professors more at ease presenting ourselves as fonts of knowledge and masters of our subject, and so uncomfortable with the perception that we are developing, fallible human beings.

I recall Kahil Gabran saying that the true teacher doesn't give wisdom, but faith and lovingness.

It seems the more professionally renown a professor is, the more professionally renown that professor wants to be. The more books and articles a professor publishes, the more books and articles that professor wants to publish. The more conference papers that professors presents, the more conference papers that professor wants to present. The more grants a professor receives, the more grants that professor wants to receive. To achieve all this, that professor becomes more sensitive to what others think, and thus the more that professor loses his/her independence. Maybe the less a professor wants, the more that professor becomes.

Maybe we should care less in our classes about achieving the illusory goal of mastery of a subject and care more about instilling an appreciation and love of learning.

If we are to produce the leaders of tomorrow in our classes, should we not be concerned with what kind of leaders we are producing?

The truths in both my teaching and my life are only momentary perceptions of today which, if not constantly re-evaluated, can stagnate my potential as a growing teacher and human being.

Well, I thought I'd share these musings with you. I don't know about you, but I'm going to think and reflect hard and heavy on them. Thanks Ray and Len.

Make it a good day.


Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)
Department of History                      /~\    /\ /\
Valdosta State University          /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
Valdosta, Georgia 31698           /   \__/     \/  /     /\ /~      \
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