Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 18:08:08 -0400 (EDT)
We of the Jewish faith have just begun an eight day period of observance called the Days of Awe. For a little over a week, beginning with our New Year--Rosh Hashonah--and ending with the Day of Atonement--Yom Kippur--we are asked to look deep into our hearts and acknowledge how they energize, direct, and hold sway over our heads; how--to be technologically current--the hardware of thoughts and deeds are driven my the software of the spirit.
So I guess--in spite of myself--I feel myself getting especially preoccupied with inward self-reflection and self-examination. In synagogue this weekend, my rabbi talked about Abraham's decision to strike out on his own into the unknown far from the safety and security of his father's lucrative idol-making business, to strike out on his own into the unknown of new thoughts and ways far from the safety and security of old thoughts and ways.
As he spoke, my mind began to drift to the University a few blocks down the street where we are preparing for the conversion from the quarter to the semester system and are reviewing all our programs. I wondered if we in education don't have our idols whom we worship and from whom we derive comfort and security, a sense of place, a sense of value and purpose. What would happened, I thought, if we at the university, like Abraham, had the courage to smash those instutional idols and struck out from the safety and security of established thoughts and ways for the unknowns of new thoughts and ways. I began to wonder what would happen if we at the university had the courage to seize the opportunity and risk striking out far beyond mere curriculum changes into the vast unknown of a new spirit. What would we find, what new choices would unfold before us, what new perceptions would appear, what new questions would we ask, how would we act, what would we do, what would we think about ourselves, what would be conclude wereas the relevance, meaning, goals, and purposes of what we do, how we would react to and interact with others, what would we discover was really worth knowing, and what would we construct? I wondered what would we do if some of the cherished words and phrases our adoring incantations and canons were expunged from our educational liturgy and erased from our memories. Words and phrases like:
honors student syllabus standardized tests semester I.Q. GPA bright instruction-centered dumb gifted incapable of accelerated programs performance special needs classroom quarter tracked department x hour course test score "bad" student fundamentals grade session SAT or ACT skill level major assessment human nature examination finals cover the material good student average average student As, Bs, Cs, Ds, Fs teach the subject incompletes pass/fail enhancement college prep college material vocational track college level mastery of the subject objectivity objective knowledge professional make more money probation prerequisite accelerated achievement makeup failure success better paying job bell curve slow learner success attendance record dress code irrelevant question lesson plan suspension course of study "B" (or any letter grade) student administrator objective quiz can't do it professor requirement elective not comfortable with credit hours don't belong don't want themAs my rabbi talked about the binding of Isaac, I wondered what would our educational institutions look like and how would they operate, how would be perceive people and things, if we forbade all human sacrifice in the form of rejecting, weeding out, sorting out, casting out, flunking out; if our new thoughts and ways centered around the profoundly simple, but simply profound, creed that each student is a sacred and valuable person not to be thrown aside on the heap of the unnoticed, and as such--as my raibbi so wisely said--EACH...PERSON....IS....IMPORTANT...., each is a future, and if lost is the end of a future and impacts on all our futures.
It won't happen, but I still wonder.
Make it a good day. --Louis-- Louis Schmier (912-333-5947) email@example.com Department of History /~\ /\ /\ Valdosta State University /^\ / \ / /~ \ /~\__/\ Valdosta, Georgia 31698 / \__/ \/ / /\ /~ \ /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\ -_~ / "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\ _ _ / don't practice on mole hills" -\____