Monday, January 10, 2005

Nicole: Saturday

10’45

I think it’s Friday. No, Saturday. It’s easy to forget. The watches change, the sun rises and sets, we sleep and wake, and there is little need for names of days, though the hour is still quite important. When I am below deck I find it surprisingly easy to forget that we are underway. The gentle rocking has become so much a part of my world that I have forgotten its existence in the way that one forgets the solidity on the ground beneath ones feet when on land. Experienced sailors will laugh and know that this means we have had fair weather and calm seas. When foul weather blows in the ship is sea-stowed and everything not in use is lashed down to prevent it becoming airborne.

So, back to what we are learning. It is true, our learning here, for the most part, is not academic in a textual sense. But life is not lived in texts, it is lived in the world. Strictly speaking, the goal of a liberal arts education is to produce well rounded human beings, capable of both thought and action. The ability to analyze texts and scribble coherently is only one part of that balance. Theory without practice is a daydream, a kind of sophisticated amusement for intelligent minds. Please do not misunderstand me, I respect academia, and on my better days fancy myself a scholar, but a whole soul this does not make. As students, most of us read over five thousand pages a semester, and write between fifty and eighty. We huddle together in hundred year old buildings as the seasons change, around tables with papers scattered about us, we touch heads in labs, reading measurements yielded by state of the art tools, we live work and play within the confines of an extraordinary microcosm, and when we graduate, we believe ourselves to be educated. In many ways this is true, and that sort of education is a gift, both as it pertains to the people we become, and the opportunities that are made available to us. But by itself it is incomplete. Here, we are in the world in a vastly different way. It is an animal world, of gravity and grace, wide open to the wind and waves, full of wonder and experience so rich it peels back your skin and shows the steel beneath.
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posted by Nicole