Copyright © Louis Schmier

Date: Thu 11/30/2006 3:40 AM
Random Thought: A Departing Testament

“The skill is important, but the will is significant.” So said Dick Vitale, as he announced my beloved Tarheels taking of the “the” out of first ranked “The Ohio State” in last night’s basketball match up. In academics as well, I say that the knowledge is important, but the will is significant. Without the will, the student won’t, no matter how much knowledge or skill she or he may have acquired. That is what I mean by “wholeness education.” To become the person she or he is capable of becoming, we have to help each student help her/himself both acquire the knowledge, skill and will.

“The skill is important, but the will is significant.” You know, we say all semesters have an end. But, do they? Should they? When we talk of a course’s end, when we end it on the down note of a fearful final exam and the compilation of a final grade, do we leave a positive message. Or, as the final frames of a Loony Toons cartoon says, “That’s all folks!” Do we leave any lasting message at all? The transmission of the information and the development of the skills may end, but I think every course should have a forward movement, a sense of meaning and wholeness not only in a student’s academic life, but her or his life in general. I always have wrestled with ways students could give meaning to their classroom experience that would extend far beyond the calendar, grade, hours taken, and information received. If we have too tightly wrapped up a class in the information and the skill to use that information while not actively helping a student help her/himself develop her or his will, the experience becomes painfully empty and meaningless.

“The skill is important, but the will is significant.” I am a devotee of James Allen’s “As A Man Thinketh.” This little known early 20th century philosopher focused on the significance of a person’s will. He asserted we are what we think of ourselves and we do with what we know in the manner of what we think of ourselves and others. He goes further to declare that as long as we believe we are the creatures thrown helplessly about by outside conditions, we will fail to become the rightful masters of our own lives. But, if we will do the hard work of reflecting continually to identify and modify obstructive negative beliefs and attitudes, we will be astonished at the rapid transformation in our will that, in turn, will produce an equally rapid transformation in the conditions of our lives.

“The skill is important, but the will is significant.” So, as a wholeness teacher, I strongly feel that a course should have an ongoing experience and a lasting memory. It should underline an ongoing principle that defies the calendar of semesters and seasonal breaks. Each day I write the “Words of the Day” on the white board for us to briefly discuss. At the end of each semester I wish I was paid enough to give each student a copy of Dr. Seuss' OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO. I, at least, read it to them. It focuses on the significance of will. Then, I end the class with a statement about donuts and holes: "As you wander through life, whatever be your goals, be sure to keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole." Now, for the first time, I will give each of them this departing ethical testament as well. It may be my most meaningful legacy of the class. Their attention in class has usually been taken by practical details of doing assignments and getting grades. I want to tell them about what I consider really important, that, as Dr. Seuss says, it’s far more about who they are than what they know. It allows me to articulate my hopes, blessings, concerns, and love to each student. It’s a reminder for me what are the essentials in life. It is a dimension of spirit that can bring great meaning and intensity to their lives. It offers a model of with what I want to live: an optimistic spirit, a fervor and enthusiasm for life, a sense of responsibility and concern for others, and a sense of worthwhileness about themselves. I want to reveal two truths to them too often hidden: “The skill is important, but the will is significant” and being good is the best way to feel good. It rests on a firm conviction that values are not only about wants and needs, but beliefs, especially those about what is good and right and what constitutes a worthy life. I suppose this testament reveals that I am convinced that the purpose of an education goes beyond transmitting information and securing a job; its purpose is to transform people. “The skill is important, but the will is significant:”

May you always believe in yourself.
May you always have confidence in yourself.
May you always love yourself.
May you always have faith in yourself.
May you be smart and strong enough to find a way around every obstacle
May you always convert an obstacle into an opportunity.
May you always be willing to take risks and do something new
May you always be adventurous.
May you never place limits on yourself.
May you always be resilient.
May you never be without hope.
May you always give to everything everything you've got.
May you always smile.
May you always hear the birds singing.
May you always smell the flowers.
May you always swoon at nature's scenery.
May you always see the sun even when it's raining.
May you live each day to the fullest.
May you always laugh.
May you never doubt you are lovable.
May you feel and express gratitude.
May you appreciate the people and the things you have in your life
May you give without expecting a "thank you" in return.
May you cherish every moment.
May you always learn and grow.
May you never let unkind or ungrateful people ruin your day.
May you never surrender your integrity when the going gets tough.
May you always be kind to others.
May you be resilient.
May you always love, yourself and others
May you always be caring, for yourself and others.
May you always be compassionate and generous.
May you always forgive others--for your sake.
May you always be happy.
May you always find meaning and purpose in everything you think, feel, and do.
May you always be physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually fit.
May you always find ways to renew yourself.

And, may you do all this when it counts, which is every day.

Do all this and, oh, the places you'll go!

         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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