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September Scholar

 
 
coberst
 
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2005 07:10 am
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,361 • Replies: 24
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2005 07:36 am
coberst wrote:

It is unlikely that you will encounter this unorthodox suggestion ever again. You must act on this occasion or never act. The first thing is to make a change in attitude about just what is the nature of education.


Personally, I don't think that your premise is unorthodox..................it is simply out of the mainstream mind set. As a person who returned to college in her middle thirties, I certainly understand the point that you are making. I can remember having a discussion in class about what is the nature of education. On one hand, is it to prepare people to earn a living, or is it for the pure joy of learning?

For young people, it is primarily the former. The way that our society works now, it is important for the young person to place himself/herself on the track that will afford him the greatest professional satisfaction, coupled with an income that will enable him to indulge in self-actualizing pursuits. If a person is struggling to make ends meet, he rarely has the wherewithal, and the emotional strength, to spend time in the pursuit of pure learning.

Once that problem is dealt with, the person is able to indulge himself in the process of learning, just for the sheer joy of it. One of the difficulties is that many people, as they approach middle age. appear to stick themselves in a familiar groove, unable to see beyond the known, and the familiar.

It is the more adventurous souls, who are not afraid of having to inspect their most deeply held beliefs, who are not afraid to attempt to try something new, just for the sheer joy of it, who will take the risk of upsetting their psychic applecarts. Most others, will choose to ramain in comfortable, familiar territory, and deprive themselves of a most rewarding adventure.
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spidergal
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2005 07:52 am
A lot of what cob has said seems to me like what is said in the book " Man's search for Meaning" by Victore Frankl
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2005 09:39 am
Phoenix

I feel like the traveler who has spent the last two years in a foreign land and that has, for the first time in those two years, met a person called Phoenix who speaks English. I have been pushing this matter for two years and this is the first time I have found a person who immediately understands what I am talking about. You evidently have an entirely different set of friends, colleges, and Internet contacts than I do.

For the first time I have that someone with whom I can discuss the more dreamy aspect of this matter. It is my belief that the US badly needs a counterpoint to the present set of policy makers controlling the nation's public policy. I suspect if the country had one hundred thousand September Scholars banded together we could gain the confidence of the people and provide a balance to the oligarchy now in control.

For such a thing to happen we must induce a great number of adults into becoming September Scholars. What is your response to that idea?

Chuck
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Oct, 2005 10:04 am
I'm in. I agree that continued learning is a key to a long and healthy life.

Yesterday afternoon I was having a discussion about this very thing while talking with a woman in her nineties. She was describing some of the courses she has taken while subscribing to the Great Ideas series. She says she's done this for years. While she says she has no doctorate after her name, she feels she has a lot to offer because of her own self-education. (I am arranging for her to do a program on journaling for our community that she calls "The Senior Years".)

Good stuff.
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Oct, 2005 04:26 am
In the United States we have a group of individuals I call Policy Makers because they are a group of probably less that ten thousand owners and managers of Corporate America and Institutional America who determine public policy in America. (Thomas Dye has written books about this matter.).

Policy Makers control America by paying for the campaigns of politicians and by manipulating citizens through ideological organized systems of propaganda. These policy makers organize and maintain think tanks and college professors to provide the intellectual legitimacy for their policies.

I envision a large group of scholars loosely interconnected to provide a scholarly group to counter-point the intellectual legitimacy controlled by this powerful oligarchy. The scholarly group I label September Scholars.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Oct, 2005 07:18 am
I'm an early spring scholar myself.I recognise everything in cob's initial post as being valid and I can assure other threaders that the feelings of excitement cob refers to are absolutely genuine.

However,as cob gets more experience he will realise that any thought of banding together to improve how we are governed is totally futile and when he does he will be an October scholar.When the imagination of children is crushed it invariably stays crushed.

I think that those of us in the fortunate position cob is in can only hint and languidly direct others and hope that they will eventually see the point.We cannot possibly organise because we inevitably lose sight of our original project when we do and that,for me at least,would be catastrophic.

Splendid post cob.

Go on your way accordingly
And know you're not alone.
Bob Dylan-I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Oct, 2005 07:48 am
coberst wrote:
For such a thing to happen we must induce a great number of adults into becoming September Scholars. What is your response to that idea?


I don't think that you can "induce" anyone to become a "September scholar". I believe that the thirst for pure learning is something that needs to come from within the person himself. Yes, you can introduce ideas that might awaken a person whose intellectual curiosity has lain dormant, but the need for expanding ones intellectual horizons must be self-motivated, or, IMO, it just won't work.

As far as developing interconnected groups, IMO, that defeats the entire purpose of "September Scholars". To "follow one's bliss", in the words of Josph Campbell, is an intensely personal experience, and is best shared only with a few trusted companions.

I am a little confused. The beginning of your thesis was that people need to enlarge their world, simply for the sake of pure learning. Later, you throw in politics, and policy makers in the government.

Once one has an agenda, eg: to change society, a person is not approaching learning in its purist sense, just for the sheer joy of intellectual exploration. Please elaborate. It is possible that I did not completely catch your meaning.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Oct, 2005 08:39 am
Pheonix-

Nice.

If you haven't already seen it you might be interested in the palindrome Merry Andrew brought to the attention of Trivia threaders.It is a lovely example I think of what you mean.The sheer intellectual playfulness engaged in for no reason.
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 04:19 am
Spidergal

I think I did read the Frankl book several years ago but do not remember much about it. However, I did, and I suspect ours also, find that at mid-life there develops a need to find another purpose and meaning in life beyond the job and family. At mid-life our ambition begins to wane and our children's needs begin to require less effort. At such a time if one can find a different value system that places more concentration on building self-worth rather than net-worth it would be useful.

Chuck
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 04:22 am
Piffka

I have also been very influenced by the Great Books Discussion Groups. In fact I could point to my very first encounter with one of these groups as a first awakening of intellectual curiosity.

Several years ago after two decades of self-actualized learning I began to focus my attention on the process it self. In so doing I decided that I would try to help others find this intellectual awakening that has been so important to me.

Self-learning is a lonely journey and I thought it would be nice to belong to a group of scholars like myself so that I would have someone with whom to discuss ideas and conclusions. I have had little success in finding like-minded individuals. I have been engaged in several discussion forums on the Internet but find that primarily young people who find such groups to be "verbal video games" frequent most forums. However, like here, occasionally I come across individuals capable of comprehending such matters as self-learning.

Chuck
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 04:27 am
Spendius

I speak of scholarship as being a September event only because I recognize that the first half of life is often filled with job and family leaving little time for hobbies. But I also have come to suspect that if this critical thinking does not begin shortly after schooling an individual is unlikely to ever begin. It appears to me that most people tend to place their intellect in a chest in the attic after they complete school. I think our attitude toward education, as educational institutions itself leads us to such conclusions, leads us to many unhealthy attitudes toward learning.

I suggest that people think of self-actualized learning as being a hobby and it is treated like any other hobby, it ebbs and flows in time.

I have been actively engaged in an effort to demonstrate to individuals in the first half of life that self-learning can be very satisfying. My impression so far is that schooling has not prepared most people to learn on their own. Most people have no concept of the meaning of self-actualized learning or how to go about doing it. Also such individuals are very defensive about this matter and their egos are easily bruised. I sense that most people feel a cognitive dissonance about learning.

Chuck
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 04:32 am
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 04:59 am
coberst wrote:
I suggest that people think of self-actualized learning as being a hobby and it is treated like any other hobby, it ebbs and flows in time.


And I believe, that with the vast majority of individuals, that is the way that people operate. Over the life cycle, there are many factors that interfere with a person's ability to seek out learning for learning's sake.

Family problems, health issues, money difficulties, may all tend to cause people to relegate pure learning to the "back burner". The issues of simply living, and maintaining homeostasis in life become primary. Once the immediate problem is solved, the person can is able to luxuriate again the the pursuit of knowledge.

I do agree with heartily with one of your remarks. If a person can be introduced to the concept of pure learning early on, and embraces it, learning may then become an important value to the individual. If so, he is less likely to eschew learning at times of stress, as learning has become an important part of his very existence.

After I graduated from grad school in my 30's, I went back to my undergrad school as a not-for-credit auditor for a number of years. The school, at the time, had a policy of allowing graduates to audit non-lab courses for about fifteen bucks apiece.

I had a ball. I took all the courses (like physics Rolling Eyes ) that I was afraid to take when I was being graded. I think those few years were probably some of the most fascinating in my life.

At one time, I was diagnosed with a serious illness, and underwent an intensive medical procedure. I figured that since I had chosen to undergo the procedure, I would take the attitude that what I had was "interesting", and learn as much about it as I could. I went to the county medical society, and spent wonderful afternoons digging into the microfiche records. (That was before the internet was in such common use.)

When I went into the hospital, (I was there for over two months) I brought along the libretto of "Carmina Burana", and proceeded to attempt to learn all the songs by heart. I was not too successful, but it was fun, and helped distract me from my medical problems. I also took along a course in Spanish conversation to the hospital.

Apparently I am contradicting myself. As I am writing this, I realize that if a person believes that pure learning is important in his life, he will find time for it, even during times of great personal stress.
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flushd
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 06:22 am
Phoenix said
>>I do agree with heartily with one of your remarks. If a person can be introduced to the concept of pure learning early on, and embraces it, learning may then become an important value to the individual. If so, he is less likely to eschew learning at times of stress, as learning has become an important part of his very existence. <<

I agree too!! Teach your kids this, and they will carry it with them forever.
I was lucky enough to have a father who whole-heartedly supported my learning....regardless of what anyone else thought, who I was in line with, what I was interested in.

"Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he eats forever. "
Smile

Sorry, just had to jump in there.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 06:32 am
coberst-

You are a bit of an idealist.I think it has fallen to Phoenix and myself to knock that aspect out of you at the risk of bruising your ego.This recent "discovery" of yours has got you a trifle over-excited and you seem to be on a mission.It simply has no legs.Scholarly types are hopeless politically.I have been active in both major parties in the UK and the qualities required to shift things are not those of scholars.

The major difficulty here,as I see it,is the sheer volume of ideas you are throwing out.In the above 3 posts there are so many points being made that I hardly know where to begin.

Phoenix and I seem to be in agreement that the disinterested intellectual curiosity is a personal quality which one has from a very young age.I have difficulty,as I expect Phoenix does,with the idea of it being dormant and then suddenly flowering in a retired engineer.I don't see how the genuine article can ever be dormant.It is too easy to lay the blame on the educational system or a diffused oligarchy.How can one's eyes and ears ever be dormant.It is how one uses them.If it is with a sense of awe and wonder at anything and everything you have what I would say is the capacity for scholarly thinking.Flaubert somewhere takes great pains to describe a great building in the Orient and nobody does such things better.And then an insect alights in his field of vision.He studies the insect's wing and dismisses the building as trite by comparison.Hardly even trite.Pathetic more like.And there's the seemingly insignificant scene of Emily Bronte lying on the bank of a backwater dangling a hand in the water playing with the minnows for hour after hour whilst dreaming of other things.And there's Marcel Proust dreaming his life away and so many more-oh so many more and there are plaques on the walls now where these people lived and visitors from all over the world come to stare at them and to feel a little closer to the source.Many,many thousands go to Haworth every year just to tread where Emily trod.
And Peter Marin will never inspire such love.

Such is a very brief glimpse of my idea of scholarship.Great Books Discussion Groups are anathema to this view.Just more tunnel vision.Your library is where to begin the real journey and famous names are what you want on the spines of the books you choose.Names that have stood the severe test of time.The rest is journalism and who can compare to Mailer in that field."The people" are not so in a chest as you think.

One doesn't carry out this process to better oneself.
One does it for the sheer joy of it.You are still a practical engineer and quite understandably so but now you are retired the fascinating world is your oyster and nothing in it is boring to a real scholar.

I hope I haven't rendered you "very defensive" or "bruised your ego." Good luck.

spendi.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 06:33 am
Quote:
"Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he eats forever. "


flushd- Interesting. I used to have a version of that quote on the wall of my office.
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Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 10:06 am
I'm vastly amused that Spendius writes with callow disregard for the thoughts of others, yet expresses such reverence for the "severe test of time."

While in Scotland a few years ago I was interested to find that throughout the British Isles, but particularly prevalent in Scotland, were small community clubs. These "Mutual Improvement Societies," thrived in nearly every village. They were developed solely for the purpose of bettering the mind. There were evenings every week set aside for "talks" and discussion groups. I think that Coberst is imagining something similar in a "virtual" setting.

see also: A Brief History of Thinking About Informal Education and note especially the Mechanics' Institutes.
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Oct, 2005 10:44 am
Piffka wrote-

Quote:
While in Scotland a few years ago I was interested to find that throughout the British Isles, but particularly prevalent in Scotland, were small community clubs. These "Mutual Improvement Societies," thrived in nearly every village. They were developed solely for the purpose of bettering the mind.


I think the choice of the word "solely" here is somewhat naive.I could easily think of a number of reasons why such clubs developed all of which would likely,not certainly I feel it neccessary to stress,be a candidate for the main motive force behind the initiative.Mailer once said that if you see someone looking to do you some good-run!

There is also the somewhat mute point of what "betterment of the mind" means.

The original post,and some subsequent ones,is not very complimentary to the ordinary person of the type I mix with socially and whose learning difficulties I accept with never,hardly,a murmer.There was a degree of "callous disregard",not to say inchoate elitism,in some places which I thought would benefit from some gentle teasing.

And anyway-a good discussion group needs members who can do a bit of chopping otherwise it falls quickly into that direst of all conditions;a mutual stroking society, and fades away as most of the discussion groups seemingly have done since those days Piffka looked us over.We have a discussion group in the pub every night of the week and there is no agenda.

I think I know as much about Mechanic's Institutes as anybody not professionally engaged in running them.They have evolved a considerable distance in recent years and a few of them are now fully fledged universities.

But it is nice to know that I provided some "vast" amusement.
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Oct, 2005 07:48 am
Spendi

It appears to me that you are not acquainted with Great Books Discussion Groups. These discussion groups read and discuss what many consider to be the classics of Western thought.

Some of your other comments indicate you have not read my 'essay' to the point that you make comments that are contrary to that essay.
Chuck
0 Replies
 
 

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