“Follow your passion!” This aphorism of self-actualization is often given to college students searching for what work vocations they will do after graduation. This saying can be a well-intentioned antidote to the dull and dubious pragmatism that says, “Wealth (and the job that gains it) makes the man.” But this aphorism can also be misleading and damaging. Its passion-propelled portrait of work can set people up for failure and disappointment instead of helping them find meaning and contentment in their labors. Continue reading Follow Your Passion!
Reading Fahrenheit 451 sixty years after it was written affords some surprising affirmations of Bradbury’s futuristic vision. Televisions nearly engulf living rooms with 3-D vision and surround sound. Sports occupy center attention. Books are abridged in SparkNotes and WikiNotes. The talking heads of cable news channels prattle incessantly. Video games bombard viewers with a cacophony of colors, characters, and actions. People have earbuds stuffed in flooding them with sound and chatter.
Of all the prescient points of Bradbury’s book, one that stands out most today is the “comfortable people,” the depressed, suicidal people who shun and burn books that make them face excellence, ideas that contradict their positions, and complicated issues. Continue reading The Comfortable People
Why is a liberal arts education necessary for young people today and for humanity’s future? To answer this question, we might benefit from Ray Bradbury past analysis in Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury’s novel, published in 1953, warns that the death of books—as well as leisure, thinking, and happiness—is principally caused by the “comfortable people.” Who are these people? Would Bradbury see them among us today? If so, what remedy or hope might Bradbury offer? Continue reading Mr. Montag, You’re Nasty!
“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts. The right defense against false sentiment is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes.” – C. S. Lewis
Learning is a developed habit. Often, the university is viewed as a place that imparts an education aimed at the mind alone, or logos, reason. Developing a student’s ability to think clearly is the stated goal. But a person who thinks rightly (logos), and does not have a right spirit within them (thumos), or develop a virtuous appetite (eros), is not a whole person. A learned person, a whole person, is thus one who has learned to use reason, desire what is good, which can only be moderated by a right spirit. This is a tall order, especially if university education is conceived as only occurring in the classroom. Continue reading Developing the Habits to Learn: Logos, Thumos, and Eros
This is the second post of a two-part essay on Darwin’s liberal arts education and its implications for education today.
Despite Darwin’s antipathy toward liberal arts education, it successfully prepared him for greatness. A closer look at three entangled features will illustrate why a liberal education succeeded in Darwin’s case, despite his disinterest. Continue reading Darwin’s Tangled Liberal Arts Education
This is the first post of a two-part essay on Darwin’s liberal arts education and its implications for education today.
In 1859 Darwin brought closure to his 490-page abstract, On the Origin of Species, with the following reflection:
“It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. . . . Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
This poetic passage hides a tortured educational history. It is a narrative openly disparaging of the liberal arts, despite being penned in the spirit of the liberal arts. Continue reading Darwin’s Apathy for the Liberal Arts
We pause today to memorialize the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. This year, 2015, marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Birmingham march that spurred the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
I have been reminded of the magnitude of this 50th celebration by watching the recently released film Selma. While I am not a film critic, I will throw my hat into the ring of historians that have decided that the film should be reviewed and scrutinized by those of us trained to reconstruct the past and tease out its lessons. Continue reading Thoughts on Selma and “Selma”
I have occasionally called the residence halls at Concordia University Irvine, Babylon beyond the CU Center (the CU Center is the chapel on campus). I don’t say this because our residence halls are full of moral degradation and licentious behavior. Though we encounter our share of behavioral, moral, and psychological challenges, this is not the point. The point is that working and living in the residence halls has often felt like I am in exile from my brothers and sisters on the academic side of the house, even though I teach with them there as well. Thus, my world is Babylon beyond the CU Center. Continue reading A Professor in Babylon
The best global managers are well-rounded, well-traveled, and well-read.
Students new to campus sometimes question the relevance of Concordia University Irvine’s Core liberal arts and sciences courses to their career preparation. Business faculty smile at this. We all note the connection between an informed and liberal world view and management success.
The best managers have the skills that the Core seeks to imbue. Continue reading Business Preparation and the Core Curriculum