A student caught me off-guard when I walked into section 12 yesterday afternoon, asserting: “that word peripatetic is overused.” It is? Really? Is this an intervention, I asked?
I ‘d thought precisely the opposite, which is why I’ve been using it so much; and why I’d planned the day’s class session and built our course around it. It’s not a familiar concept to most of our students, who’d almost always rather hop the bus or skateboard or anything mechanically locomotive, to make the short transit across our campus.
I tried to be accommodating, spending the balance of our period searching for pluggable synonyms. But “mobile philosophy” (for instance) just isn’t as much fun to say. You can’t get a good Calvin and Hobbes cartoon out of it to match “pair of pathetic peripatetics”. I’m standing by my word, but after today should have less occasion to say it. We’ll just be doing it.
Come to think of it, I’ve also been saying This I Believe a lot too. I’ll look for substitutes. (Personal philosophy, core conviction… or maybe just TIB will do.) I’ve asked CoPhi students to find moreTIB essays that resonate with them, and briefly to say a bit more about why. I’ll do the same for some of mine, which include
- Albert Einstein, An Ideal of Service to Our Fellow Man
- Oscar Hammerstein II, Happy Talk
- Victor Hanson, Natural Links in a Long Chain of Being
- Penn Jillette, There is No God
- Erroll Morris, There Is Such a Thing as Truth
- Azar Nafisi, Mysterious Connections That Link Us Together
- Eboo Patel, We Are Each Other’s Business
- Jackie Robinson, Free Minds and Hearts at Work
- Wallace Stegner, Everything Potent is Dangerous
- Arnold Toynbee, I Agree With a Pagan
- John Updike, Testing the Limits of What I Know and Feel
That last phrase from Updike is particularly apt and timely. “Testing the limits” does happen in class occasionally, between students and teacher, but we all need to expand our horizons and become less limited. We’re all here to learn.
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