Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Sat, 11 Nov 2000 09:51:42 -0500 (EST)
Random Thought: A Letter to the Editor

A "brrrrrrrr" good morning. Not realizing until it was too late that the temperature was in the low 40s, I went out this morning bare chested in shorts. Big, big mistake. The chill's pin pricks taught me what it feels like to experience the death of a thousand cuts.

Anyway, as I was cutting through the sharp crisp air, struggling to take my mind off impending hypothermia, I was thinking about "purpose." I guess that word was on my mind because of a meeting with a small but dedicated bunch of faculty called by the concerned acting VP of Academic Affairs to pump life back into the now generally moribund Teaching and Learning Center on our campus. During the conversation, I scribbled some ramblings all over a napkin, leaned over and showed it to a long time friend and colleague from the philosophy department: "using 'oh, you know what I mean' words. got to discuss meaning of 'teaching,' 'learning,' 'student-centered.' first principles first. The 'whys' before the 'hows' and 'whats.' First, purpose of an education. Then purpose of a TLC."

Somehow, in some convoluted way, on the "back nine" of my route, that word, "purpose," routed me into thinking once again about the lingering impact of a recent highly visible incident involving a star football player on one of the local high school football teams that has a lot of citizens up in arms. As soon as I got back to the unheated house--who puts the heat on during November in South Georgia--I quickly got some freshly brewed coffee and tightly cupped the warm cup. After the color of my fingers transformed from blue to flesh, and movement was restored, I sat down at the computer and sent a letter to the editor of our local newspaper. It is my second regarding this local incident. I'd like to share it with you good people:

        What is the purpose of an education?  It is to see 
        students develop wholly, to possess skill, knowledge, 
        and conscience.  It is to add value to each student 
        and to help them value themselves.  That is not being a
        therapist, or a councillor, or a clergyman, or a substitute 
        parent, or a whatever. It is being an educator, and that 
        is not easy.  If we focus only on transmitting subject 
        information and developing what we call thinking skills 
        without much concern with helping to develop a moral and ethical
        guide for the use of those abilities and knowledge, we have
        engaged in very bad education.  No, if we want our children 
        to be truly educated, they must acquire self-confidence, 
        competence, and conscience.  We must help them develop BOTH 
        their intellect and character.  We must help them learn 
        both how to do things right and to do the right things.  
        We must help them learn not only to acquire a productive 
        livlihood, but to a productive life.

Just realized that TLC can stand for "tender, loving care" as well as for Teaching and Learning Center. Hmmmm. Curious. The two are really synonymous terms, you know.

Make it a good day.


Louis Schmier   
Department of History 
Valdosta State University
Valdosta, GA  31698                          /~\        /\ /\
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                       -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
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