I haven’t been thinking about much else except Barbara’s questions: “How did you become a professor?” “When did you change and become a teacher?” They are tough questions. The answers are tougher. To answer them I have to bare some more of my soul. It was a mentally and emotionally rough walk this morning, and the incessant early-morning heat, humidity, and bugs had little to do with it.

I have to admit that I did not go into academia like some intellectual Sir Galahad in quest of the Holy Grail of wisdom. I became a history major while attending Adelphi College in Garden City, New York, only because I screwed up my pre-med program and any chances of going to medical school. I was a World War II military history buff as a teenager, nothing else interested me, and my sophomore advisor said I had to major in something. I backed into academia on the rebound, then, for want of something else to do. I didn’t want to go into the military because I had heard something about a place called Indochina; I was afraid I didn’t have what it took to survive and succeed in the sordid world of business; I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life; and I discovered the ivory tower was a safe haven from the stress of life.

I did not get a Ph.D. because I thought I could be a superb scholar and a modern-day Herodotus or Pliny. It was all Dr. Birdsall Viault’s fault. He was a young history professor at Adelphi in whose class I had accidently enrolled. He took me under his wing. He was impressed with my exam essays, research papers, and class performance. He said I was a good researcher, critical thinker, and writer. He told me that I would make a good historian. He strongly suggested that I go on for my Master’s degree after I graduated from Adelphi. So I went to St. John’s University only because it was inexpensive and the school was closest to where I worked to earn my tuition. And when I completed my Master’s a year later, and went to Dr. Viault and asked, “Now what?” He replied, “Go south, young man.” So I went into the unknown wilds of what I thought was the “uncivilized” South to an idyllic place called the University of North Carolina, which I knew nothing about, to get another advanced degree that meant little to me and with which I did not know what I would do.

I did not go into the classroom on a mission or with a sense of calling to instil the awe and wonder of learning in the coming generation. Like most graduates, I was being groomed as a research scholar. I was dumped, untrained, into a classroom–first at nearby North Carolina State University and then at UNC–to teach a freshman survey western civilization history course that few students, professors, or graduate students took seriously. We learned on the job, without guidance, by the seat of our pants, more often than not by aping our lecturing professors.

Once inside the classroom, however, I stayed there because I could hide from both others and myself. I could be something I always dreamed of being. I never had the dedication or discipline or self-confidence to cut an academic swath. I was at best a mediocre athlete. To gain attention in high school, I had resorted to humor and became the class clown, a punster, and a prankster of such repute that they talked of my antics long after I graduated. Being voted by my high school teachers as one of the college-bound students least likely to succeed didn’t help shore up my weakened sense of self-worth any more than did my lackluster performance in college. At UNC, one of the top universities in the country, I had this deep-seated fear that, being surrounded by smart people, it would be just a matter of time before I would be detected. I discovered, however, that the door to the classroom was locked tighter than the door to the bedroom. Even my professors didn’t dare invade the inner sanctum of my classroom.

The classroom became the one place where I could compensate, feed my ego, and fill a void. I was important in there; it was the one place I felt important. I could be a leader and students would follow. In the classroom, I was the sage on stage, at the head of the class. I was needed, looked up to, seen, wanted. I could be smart and look smart, and no one would challenge me; I could exhibit self-confidence and no one would be the wiser. So, contrary to the advice of my professors, I decided that I would concentrate on my teaching rather than on research.

Nevertheless, in the process I had desecrated myself. All around me were the subtle signs that I was a failure, for everywhere I turn I continued to be haunted by the image of being a second son. I did not see the Ph.D. so much as a membership card in an exclusive intellectual club as a second-class degree for cerebral second sons compared to the more prestigious and lucrative M.D. so wished for me–and them–by my parents. The classroom had little glitter of prestige. By all of society’s standards, it was a place for life’s second sons. There was the pervasive attitude that when a person couldn’t do anything else he or she could always teach. In academia–whose priorities dwelled on the length of the scholarly resume of awards, grants, consultancies, conference papers, and publications–the teacher was treated as the second son. Moreover, my discipline was often academia’s second son, at the low end of both the social totem pole and salary scale. The imagry of being the second son came to me every time I heard the demeaning statements about the uselessness of history and people’s dislike for what one student described as a “boring memorization of a bunch of stupid dates, places, and names.” It was a discipline that always had to fight for recognition in a society that demanded practical application. Where I landed carried with it the image of the second son, not the fabled fame, fortune, and prestige that I thought I needed to bring me attention, happiness, peace, well- being, and love. I wished for things I could not have; I tried to become something I was not; I dreamed and fantasized of doing things I could not; and I failed to appreciate fully my own untapped inner strengths: my energy, creativity, imagination, individuality, self-reliance, and sensitivity. My barreled definition of success and my shallow appreciation of myself left me with a sense of humiliation at ending up as a teacher at a small out-of-the-way college in a region of the country and a state known more for Tobacco Road and Gone with the Wind than its intellectual accomplishments. Later, as a published scholar, national reputation notwithstanding, I found myself once again as the second son in an area of history that more than one fellow historian denigrated as “an insignificant country side show to the big tent of this sub-field of American history.”

My son Robby was a profound gift who forced me to open my heart and eyes. I mean it finally dawned on me. What the hell did reputation, publication, awards and grants, and promotion have anything to do with real success and fulfillment?

The truth is that, for the first time, when I was faced with the very real possibility of losing my son, whom I loved more than my life, everything else seem so inconsequential, so small, so transitory, so superficial. And I asked questions that forced me to evaluate myself and my life for the first time and decide who I had been, who I was, and who I wanted to be. I forced me to acknowledge that I was pretending to be satisfied with both me and my life.

Lord, that truth deeply hurt. I started to see that as I had walked though the chapters of my life, I had strayed from the truth of myself, blinded and shackled by thoughts, feelings, ideas, and dreams that so often had been created by decisions influenced by others in my family, in academia, and in society. Surviving my experience taught me things that I probably would not have learned any other way. It was a hell of a learning tool. I’m not sure I would recommend using it.

At the same time, I think we learn and grow most from those experiences that are hard and painful, at least challenging, rather than from the ones that are easy. Like any pain, however, mine was a gift fraught with opportunity–but only if I had the courage to open it. I discovered that such an effort is, as someone once said, seldom a convenient scheduling of an appointment; a polite tap on the shoulder; a quiet, almost unnoticed whisper of a “may I?”; a protective “excuse me”; a safe stay at home; a comfortable repose in an easy chair; a pleasurable stroll in the garden; or a leisurely weekend canoe ride down a meandering river. It’s an arduous and dangerous trek over treacherous terrain, a lonely exposure of strengths and weakness, a stark rejoinder, and maybe even a howling reprimand.

I have discovered over these past three years, however, that as I walked the hard road and asked myself the hard questions about myself and what I do, and did not rest until I started getting the honest and painful answers, I began entering into another world. I found something no one could give me. I found something I did not think I possessed. I had acquired the knowledge that I am stronger and worthier and more talented inside than I ever thought I was.

Slowly and painfully I learned that I had been running after things I thought would bring me inner contentment–things like getting parental approval, degrees, reputation, tenure, and prestige. I have to admit that all they got me was heightened anxiety, a greater disturbance of my inner sense of peace, a deepening prejudice against myself, greater limits on my sense of self, and a subtle disdain for students who were a constant reminder of my shortcomings, who were a barrier to achieving recognition, and who were, as a colleague said, a “nuisance necessary to pay the bills.” I started to discover that I needed things and approval only to the extent that I was not inwardly defined, only to the extent that I thought I needed something from others, only to the extent I did not accept who I was.

I started looking around at the “system.” I started asking myself, “Why this business of being a college teacher is such a struggle for me? Why is it such a thankless task?” It is because to be a teacher is to challenge the legitimacy of all the accepted material criteria for success. It is because to be a teacher requires almost an unimaginable strength of character to reject those priorities. It takes a lot of courage to spend the enormous amounts of energy and time required to teach, energy and time that cannot be spent on advancing a professional career. Teaching demands an almost heroic sacrifice of personal and professional advancement in a system that does not give great attention to teaching and the well-being of the student. It is so much easier and safer and more secure to accept those priorities and tilt yourself toward yourself in the name of the survival of both you and your family, leaving the students “home alone.”

I used to bemoan so often how I had to sacrifice the classroom for the archive because of the demands that the system imposed upon me. Now I see that I had acquiesced to the system only because it was in my interest to do so and because I did not have the strength to do anything to the contrary.

In 1976, for example, my colleagues on the Promotion and Tenure Committee judged all nine years of my teaching efforts and campus activities as “non-professional”: the establishment of the Faculty Scholarship Program for needy students, the creation of the Week of Seminars program that became legendary, experimentation with interdisciplinary and topic courses, introduction of a costumed lecture series, development of the honors program, initiation of administrative reforms to ensure quality education. The committee refused to approve my promotion to full professor. These were both my colleagues and my friends, many of whom had worked with me on these projects. We were faculty in a college that bragged about being a “teaching institution” but was selling out to the pressures of reputation, power, and money that lay in research and publication.

Instead of fighting the system, in a self-righteous pout I resigned from all campus activity, stopped experimenting with teaching techniques, and went elsewhere to be seen, recognized, appreciated, and important. Whatever recognition I had from the students wasn’t enough, because they were not my equals and no one really listened to students. I “played the game,” increasingly sharing the classroom with the archive, and went on a 15 year research and publication binge that resulted in the acquisition of a national reputation. Now I have to admit that when I say “they” or “it” made me do it, I was deluding myself and shirking responsibility for my own actions and thoughts and words. I forced myself into the publish-or-perish rat race. In this particular and critical instance, I already had tenure. The promotion was inconsequential since it carried no additional salary increase. But my ego–the need to be recognized–required that I be promoted. I thought a promotion, and later a few publications, would somehow change my inner life and I could go back to teaching. But there was always “just one more.” The more renown I became, the more renowned I wanted to be. The more books and articles I published , the more books and articles I wanted to publish. The more conference papers I presented, the more conference papers I wanted to present. The more grants I received, the more grants I applied for.

To achieve all this, I became more sensitive to what others thought, and thus lost a measure of the independence I so valued. I used to say agonizingly that I couldn’t do what was needed both to publish and to properly teach, but I never made the hard choice in the interest of the students. The lure of reputation was too great. I felt I had done my moral duty merely by recognizing my dilemma. I used to say that it was a “vicious devouring monster” that I couldn’t stop, when all I had to do was say a simple and firm “no.” By gesture or deed or word, in one way or another, for a variety of reasons, regardless of cost, I, like so many of us, submitted, got with it, became a particular type of team player, and “played” the game because it was safe and easy and self-serving.

I see now the power I can impose on the “system.” I am not apart from the “system.” I am part of it. No, I am the system. I bought into it to satisfy my needs and thereby helped to fashion, reinforce and defend what it is, because it was in my interest to do so. And I must therefore assume ownership for all to which I have submitted and promoted. I see now that I cannot change a system that which I am a part by pointing the finger at someone or something else, by conforming, by submitting, or by rationalizing its actions. I know I cannot start on that tough, long road of changing myself as long as I acquiesced to the system. I think it was Carl Jung who once said something to the effect that if parents want to change a child, they should first look at themselves. If I wanted to change the hold the system had on me, I first would have to look at myself, assume ownership for my decisions and actions, then struggle to change myself and my beliefs.

Don’t think that the years following the explosive experience at Hyde have been a picnic. Instant self-realization did not automatically translate into instant self-reflection and self- actualization. There was doubt, hesitancy, denial, fear, hedging, rationalization, stumbling, weakening. Knowing deep down that I had to examine my value system was one thing; to actually examine it and admit that it had to be changed was quite another, more difficult thing; and to start changing it is still another more threatening thing. This process wasn’t some instant miracle in a revival tent where Brother Dan touched my head and said, “Heal,” and I threw off the crutches and freely walked off stage, arms outstretched, screaming, “Praise the Lord.” This was a long, arduous, painful program of spiritual, mental, and emotional rehabilitation of my beliefs.

My beliefs! Everything is a component of my personal beliefs. I believed in who I was; I believed in the effectiveness of what I did; I believed in the importance of what I did; I believed in the sincerity of what I did. I had to ask myself to honestly address all of those belief systems, to go to the very fiber of my being. I was on a terrifying journey into the unknown that I did not always like making.

I had prided myself on being a good teacher. My students felt I was a good teacher. Others felt I was a good teacher. And I have to admit that there was a lot of fun, laughter and comraderie with the students, especially during those heydays of the late 1960s and 1970s and with those who were most like me.

Yet I was humbled as I realized that starting in the mid- 1970s, I had a acquired a pattern of behavior similar to those teachers who had so brutally thrown Robby away and whom I had berated. As I had inflated myself, I had inadvertently diminished myself. Whereas I thought that I was always on the move, I was often just running in place. No matter what I did, with the exception of being involved actively in the civil rights movement and maybe protesting the war in Vietnam, I had to accept the fact that I was motivated as much out of selfishness as selflessness, as much out of feeling and looking important as doing something important, as much out of fear and compulsion as a joy of learning or persuasion. I saw that I was more concerned with my teaching than their learning; I saw how, when they ignored my “best” efforts, in self-defense I generally blamed them. I had to accept that I was not being a real person and treating others as real people, that while I talked of respect for students I kept so many at a distance.

It was hard pill to swallow. I had prided myself on being thoroughly taken with the students and discovered that I was far more taken with myself. I gloried in being a caring teacher and discovered that I cared far more for my needs than for theirs. I thought I varied myself to accommodate different students and saw that I was far more the same with everyone and less sensitive to the human diversity. I had to face up to the truth. I needed a greater understanding and appreciation of my “inner” strengths. I needed to learn how best to apply them to my “outer” works. And I worried whether I had the courage to remodel or abandon my past attitudes and behaviors.

When I was forced to look deep inside myself, and when I forced myself to continue looking inside, I wasn’t “cured.” I learned so much about life, so much about myself though constant prodding, provoking, probing, soothing, laughing, yelling, and consoling by myself and other people.

With their help, I started writing a “windows” program for my spirit. I constructed a box, if you will, into which I placed all of my hurts, resentments, fears, doubts, and worries. In another box, I placed all my hopes and optimism, as well as a catalog of my “inner” strengths, energy, creativity, imagination, sensitivity, and individuality. Over the last few years, I have obtained a picture and a vision of how I want to feel, the type of freedom I want to have, the experiences I want to initiate, the person and professional I want honestly to be. Slowly but surely that second box has expanded to become my life and profession.

Nevertheless, however the grip of the dark hand of the past is loosened and its weight is lessened and confined to that first box, it remains always there to be contended with. You never get over it; you never leave it behind. It’s always there. But I struggle to use that contention as something productive and positive, as a reminder that there always will be more of the mountains for me to climb, replete with the slips and scratches and even falls–and that each attempt to reach higher will get me closer to the summit, that each experience will make me stronger at the breaking points. There always will be so much more room for self-improvement, so much area for self-development. No, I am not “cured.” I just have acquired another set of problems, questions, issues to live with.

Robby simply offered me an experience to explore who I am and to get in touch with strengths and abilities I didn’t know I had, to see them differently, to use them differently, to see myself differently, and to become someone different. I found myself moving from old personal and professional patterns that no longer fit comfortably to a new way that felt intensely authentic and beneficial. I realized that I had ended up running after things like degrees and publications when, in fact, I ran past the students who could give me an inner sense of peace and contentment. I came to realize that the old values and things–salary, promotion, tenure, reputation, approval, recognition, etc.–that I thought were important no longer were important. I came to realize that students who were not as important were all that was important.

Once that occurred–once the quest for material success and approval that had acted as a weight on my psyche started lifting–I no longer felt stuck, running in the rat race, on the endless treadmill. The personal, social, and academic systems, as people call them, lost their heavy, tight grip on me. I was truly amazed at how easily I could re-enter the classroom and close the door behind me on publications, conference papers, projects, grants, and consultancies.

I had repressed myself in personal expectation as well as in social, personal and academic convention. I now slowly and painfully seized the intensive opportunity to explore what has emerged as a new authenticity. I slipped out from the public eye on my terms. I decided to stop playing the destructive publish-or- perish game, because while I was publishing, I was perishing.

To be sure, I would not be seen as the authority in my field, as the pathfinder in my area of research. But that’s okay. It’s now far less important for me to be cheered on or to be recognized for “great things.” I am coming to terms with the need to be needed, loved, seen, wanted. I am far less driven by whether the world knows about me or not. Curiously, there is not as much of an undertow of regret as I feared there would be. I redefined my perception of being important. It no longer means always being loudly and obviously in front of everyone. It now means following what’s true in my own heart and having the strength, courage, and conviction to face myself, to always question myself, and to be responsible for myself. It didn’t take the pressure away. But, the fear has certainly lessened. As that fear has weakened, I’ve started feeling such freedom. I feel more empowered to deal with whatever I need to deal with and find meaning in whatever I honestly find important, so that what I do counts for something more than selfishly feeding my ego, adding to my resume, increasing my renown, and guaranteeing an income.

Isn’t it strange: Susie and I had sent Robby to Hyde School to find himself–but I found that I was unexpectedly starting to find myself. By some quirk of fate, I got the opportunity to find a different place for success and inner peace in my life at the same place.

Make it a good way.

Make it a good day.



The pre-dawn moments, when I power-walk in the streets–where each Random Thought originates–are precious to me. I have come to look forward to that little less than an hour it takes me to complete one of my six-mile routes. For me, an early riser, that wee hour of the coming day has become a time to watch and feel things beginning to move forward. I feel beautiful and fresh and good. After all, I haven’t done anything yet; I haven’t ruined anything, said anything wrong, made any mistakes, or done anything rotten.

I walk to feel alive, not just to live. Walking is my spiritual aerobics. I exercise as much to keep my soul in youthful shape as to keep my aging 53 year old body trim. It is my quiet time, my reflection time–what I call my “just to….” time. I think everyone should have their own “just to….” time and scenery. For me, it’s a cleansing, creative, and nurturing time to reflect on the unknown adventures of the coming day and the lingerings of yesterday. I lose myself in a moving capsule of silence, to be alone with myself, to continue a never-ending inward journey in search of myself that I started three years ago, and, if I’m both courageous and lucky, to discover a bit more of my true self and about the mission of my craft. Those moments on the street are my time to float free, to drift with the currents of my spirit and emotions, unfettered by the cluttering flotsam of noise, movement, people, sights, or schedules. I just leave the tap to my spirit open, walk, and let whatever is in the pipelines spontaneously and honestly flow out.

So, here I am, with the first introductory Random Thought shortly after dawn, just off the streets of graying Valdosta, Georgia, after a walk–at home, sitting in front of the computer in my sweat-soaked grubbies, sipping a cup of freshly made coffee and letting my fingertips do their own walking on the keyboard as they translate into electronic bits the words and feelings that poured out while I was walking.

It was a warm 79 degrees and a drenching 72% humidity this morning. A tepid, light, steamy fog hung in the air. Everything looked muted in the faint, soft, early-dawn glow. Swarms of annoying gnats and clouds of attacking mosquitoes, bred by incessant afternoon storms, billowed along my route. A person doesn’t just walk, but wades and swats and whiffs along this asphalt swamp. “Comfortable” and “weather” are not words used together during the summer month down here in south Georgia.

This sultry morning, early in my route, I was thinking. “How the hell did I get myself into this?” I asked myself in an almost castigating tone. “Here I am, almost–three years after I started withdrawing from the devouring publish-or-perish rat race to devote everything I had to teaching, struggling to write introductory Random Thoughts to a collection of reflections which I never had any intention of publishing.” It was just then that I stumbled. As I walked on, it occurred to me that I had tripped over a branch that I had not caused to fall from the tree above, that at my age I still had sufficient reflexes and agility not to have fallen flat on my face, and that I continued walking along a route I had laid out on streets others had designed and built. I started thinking about how strange and twisting my life’s route has been, how chance and karma and maybe destiny, as well as the thoughts and actions of other people, interplay with my inner self, with my strengths and weaknesses, with my talents and inabilities, with my determination and doubt, my courage and timidity, my loves and dislikes, to lead me through a little bit of comedy, a little bit of satire, a little bit of tragedy, a little bit of high adventure, and a little bit of drama.

As I look back on the slightly more than five decades of my life, and browse through its chapters, they seem to have closed and opened without my permission and without any conceivable plan. The words “unexpected,” “unintentional,” and “unforeseen” seem to have played prominent roles in almost all of them. Many were the times that I asked, as if someone were listening, “What if I hadn’t done this?” or, “What would have happened if I hadn’t gone here?” or, “Where would I be if I hadn’t known so and so?” I sometimes almost get the feeling that someone is telling me to get my hands off my life, that its none of my damn business. I can’t plan it or control it to make the “right” personal and career moves–those self-serving, easy, safe, and comfortable decisions–and still reach my full potential. I should just get out of the way, go with the flow, and get on with this wondrous, unnerving, mysterious trip. It’s almost as if someone moves in on me every now and then at will, shouts “boo” in my face, and startles the hell out of me just as I am comfortably and safely settling in. It’s like being told to get onto a bus and say to the driver, “Take me wherever you’re going,” and just sitting back and going for an adventurous ride to that somewhere called destiny or potential. Now, as I go back over my life’s table of contents, I think that maybe the paths I walked were far less haphazard than they ostensibly look. Maybe everything was laid out to arrive at this particular chapter in my life when I take great pride in being told by a student named Barbara, “You’re not a professor, you’re a teacher.”

That gets me thinking about a portion of a letter written to me eight months ago by Barbara whom you’ll meet later in the book in a Random Thought entitled “Barbara.” The letter is pinned to the bulletin board in my office. I’ve read those words so often that I’ve memorized them:

I want to be a teacher, and I want to try to teach like you. I want to know how did you become a professor? When did you change and become a teacher? And I’ve learned that there is a heck of a difference between a professor and a teacher. And I’d like to know about why you teach the way you do. I think most of what you do is because of who YOU (her emphasis) are. But who are YOU? I’d like to really know more about who YOU really are.

“But, who are YOU!” It’s an uncomfortable question, a releasing question, a challenging question. I had been struggling to write these introductory comments for some time. I now realize why writing this part of the book is as comfortable as walking in the south Georgia summer weather. It is far more difficult than I thought it would be, because it is putting unexpected demands on my sense of self, testing my identity, and challenging my integrity. It reminds me that the lease on comfort is short. It is easy, and humbling, to forget how quickly you become nervous when you are unsure whether others will share your passions, understand your insights, accept your beliefs, and consider your teaching techniques.

But, I realize this morning that this introductory part of the book isn’t the problem–it’s me. It’s not the external pressures I feel, but the internal ones. I’ve been subconsciously trying to write defensively, in case I was offensive, by separating myself from this writing, to distance it from me, to hide me, to protect me. I’ve felt threatened by me because I’m afraid of disappointing myself. I’ve been trying not to be me. I see now how that undertow for approval and acceptance apparently had been getting dangerous. I have been letting myself get too sensitive of the currents of possible response to my words. Of course, by “my words,” I really mean “me.” I have been unwittingly threatened with getting stuck in the quicksand of caution, ego, and image. But, my conscience won’t let me do it.

So I’ve decided that I have to write more from me and less for you. Unless I take you on an honest, and uncomfortable, journey inside my being, where my personal and professional spirit–and the Random Thoughts–originate, these introductory words will be hollow, spiritless, and meaningless. So it is not about style, content, intent, or even about the Random Thoughts themselves that I now want to write. It is me about whom I want to talk. Because whatever the Random Thoughts are, as Barbara so astutely observed, I carry them inside of me every hour of every day, inside and outside class, on and off campus. They flow out from the depths of me. They are me.

The Random Thoughts were unexpectedly born out of personal trauma and family crisis that exploded into a spiritual and emotional nova of liberating self-reflection, self-examination, and spiritual revelation that ultimately was to shake me out of personal and professional stagnation. It occurred on a fateful October day in 1991, during a challenge session at The Family Learning Center at Hyde School in Bath, Maine. It forced–and continually forces me–to think about how I label myself, how that labeling affects how I perceive myself, how I expect myself to behave, how I label others, and how that labeling affects my attitudes toward others.

The path that led to Hyde was not a delightful stroll down the yellow brick road. From the fall of 1990 through the summer of 1991, everything in my life seemed to be coming apart. My wife was still wrestling with the recent death of her father after a decade- long struggle with cancer. She had gone back to school and was struggling to change the direction and meaning of her life. She was barely coping with a new job as a legal assistant to a leading lawyer. She was traumatized by the unexpected death of her younger sister during routine gall bladder surgery. She was worried about her mother who was having an almost impossible time dealing with the compressed succession of tragic loss. My older son, Michael, was experiencing a serious personal anxiety crisis while away at the University of North Carolina.

I was buckling mentally, emotionally, and physically under the weight of having to be the family’s tower of strength. My scholarly and teaching activities were becoming less satisfying, less fulfilling, less meaningful, and I didn’t know why. And finally, the eight year, daily, consuming struggle my wife and I fought over our then 14 year old son, Robby, was reaching a climax.

Robby has a condition called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It was not suspected until he was six years old. His condition, however, continued to be improperly diagnosed, improperly treated, improperly addressed, improperly understood, ignored, and/or denied. We watched and listened helplessly as so many professionals fumbled about. There were so many offices, so many experts, so many tests, so many quick cures, so many regimens, so much medication, so much counseling, so much advice, so many promises, so much desperation to believe, so many hopes, so many disappointments.

We watched and listened helplessly as this highly intelligent, compassionate, sensitive and vulnerable human being was stripped of his dignity, swept up, and thrown away like a broken branch by so many middle-school and high-school educational groundskeepers who were merely interested in maintaining the neatness of their manicured institutional landscape. We had to contend with so many teachers and administrators who were more concerned with weeding out than nurturing, more concerned with discipline and order in their classes than with his human growth, more concerned with their instruction than his learning, more concerned with their comfort and convenience than his struggle and hurt, more concerned with their control than his empowerment, more concerned with their pay stubs than the cost to his psyche, more concerned with their feelings than with his spirit.

In countless and fruitless meetings with teachers and administrators, we requested, pleaded, demanded, and confronted. We had to helplessly hear them tell us or whisper in his ear or publicly proclaim aloud in class or gossip to each other that he “needs better parents,” “needs more of the paddle than his pills,” that he was a loser destined to fail, wasn’t worthy of their concern, had no right to achieve, had few prospects for achievement, should have little expectation for success, was someone no one could do anything with, and would likely wind up in the gutter.

He was shunned by the “better” students, made into a leprous outcast by so many teachers, shunted into meaningless “study management” classes, frequently hidden away in ISS (in school suspension session) cells, at times exiled from the campus, and always thrown into depressing isolation and loneliness. Those words, gestures, and actions were poisoned spears that were mortal blows to his spirit.

When he was bled white of all self-worth, and he said that he believed that his biggest mistake was being born, my wife and I cried uncontrollably.

These were the dark, struggling years during which Robby lost all self-esteem, trust in others, trust in himself, focus, meaning, purpose, direction, fight, dignity, and pride; when he just plain gave up on himself; when the grimaces and growls of resentment, frustration and anger replaced the childhood smiles; when the melancholy of resignation eclipsed all joy; when the sorrow of hurt, shame, and despair dulled the sparkle of laughter; when he slipped from enrichment classes, bounced down class levels, landed in some remedial classes, cut classes, flunked course after course after course, and failed an entire grade; when he got in with a bad crowd, became a “head-banger,” costumed himself in long hair and leather jacket and motorcycle boots, challenged all authority, had trouble with the law, got into drinking and smoking and sex, roamed the streets late at night.

Everything was crashing down around us. There were no assuring voices, and there was no understanding and comforting presence, no rescuing guidance, no saving vision. We were at each other’s throats and blaming each other. I have never felt such fear, pain, confusion, frustration, helplessness, and anxiety in my life. I couldn’t get away from it; I couldn’t make it go away. Nothing was able to satisfy me, to fulfill me, to make me happy.

But, I couldn’t show it. I had no one with whom I could share the heavy burden of my feelings, and I felt so alone. My wife could not take on any more; my son, Michael, was away at UNC and had more than enough to handle; my friends could not and did not understand. I was expected to be the family’s Olympian, able and willing to take the load off others. It was a role I tragically, and willingly, played. After all, I was a Ph.D., a scholar with a national reputation in my field of research, a leader on the campus, a crackerjack teacher. I could answer questions, solve problems, bear loads. I could handle the tears, pain, and sorrow. It was expected of me; I demanded it of myself. Ph.D., frailty, and confusion are not synonymous terms. And, though I didn’t know it at the time, it made me feel needed and important.

I don’t want to say that we were individually and collectively dysfunctional. I don’t think you can get the full understanding of what we were experiencing with the word, “dysfunctional.” “Dysfunctional” sounds so cold, so detached, so clinical, so sterile. It’s a euphemism that avoids the humanity, emotion, and pain of the experience. Life was truly hard to bear.

There were the endless nights of uneasy sleep, wondering why, listening for the slightest sound of Robby trying to leave the house, waiting for the sound of him returning when he did, waiting for the police to telephone and ask us to bring him home. The days were blighted by darkness. Many were the times I beat my fists on the walls, cried in my office, and cursed God at the top of my voice in the backyard for tormenting this innocent child. The pain had a psychic intensity that frightened me. There was such grief and fear that I covered my eyes and plugged my ears and wrapped myself in padding so that I would not see or hear or feel the agony. I didn’t want to think, to feel, to touch at all. There were times I thought I was among the walking dead because I had so shut down.

Then, by the merest of chance, after a long search, we found a very special school–Hyde School, in Bath, Maine–with teachers who were even more special human being–caring, compassionate, understanding, and dedicated but tough and demanding. Hurt, desperate, and nearly broken, we had lost all belief in miracles, and almost all hope. Nevertheless, seeing Robby once again in handcuffs, being told that he had flunked the entire ninth grade, we knew time had run out. To save our son, to rescue him from what seemed to be dismal prospects of either prison or a grave, to give him one last chance at the future, we took a chance and sacrificed our future. We cashed in our retirement nest egg and enrolled him in Hyde.

It didn’t take long to discover that Hyde School isn’t just any ordinary private prep school for troubled children. It’s not a place where parents send their children to “get fixed” by someone else. Parents do not just “dump” their troubled children at Hyde’s door and then drive off into the vacationing sunset. They must “enroll” at Hyde themselves. They sign on to a difficult, continuing, and intensive program of family seminars and challenge groups in which they and their children struggle to face and truly get to know themselves and each other. The program consists of daily journal writing, fall and spring family weekends at Hyde, annual visits to Hyde’s Family Learning Center, participation in monthly regional meetings of Hyde parents, and annual regional retreats.

That’s how I came to be sitting in my first challenge session at the Hyde Family Learning Center. I have to admit that I was sitting there “just for Robby,” smugly going through the motions. I was just putting in the time, winging it, and faking it.

Then it happened. I was leaning back nonchalantly on my chair, listening to other parents, thinking “What ‘touchy-feely’ bullshit. All these people with problems with divorce, alcohol, drugs, and/or abuse, spilling their guts about their parents and childhood. Susie and I are lucky we don’t have any of that.”

Suddenly, and without warning, someone or something screamed “BOO” so loud that my ears hurt and my soul reverberated. It was what my son Michael would call “one of those sudden, Hollywood-type moments” when I instantly saw and recognized my basic, tragic flaw. It happened almost as an overwhelming, sudden, unexpected, uncontrollable, painful volcanic eruption of honesty about myself that I couldn’t stop from occurring. I don’t know what triggered it at that moment. Maybe all those years in the fires of emotional, spiritual, and mental hell had unknowingly “softened” me up as a metallurgist works his metal in the furnace before reshaping it. I lurched forward on my chair. As tears poured from my eyes, I heard myself releasing an anger and resentment at being treated as if I had committed some crime for having exited the womb as the second son. I could hear the sounds of me blurting out long-buried frustration, hurt, and sadness at being the second son–“dismissed,” “ignored,” “forgotten,” and “taken for granted”. I stunned myself by openly admitting for the first time to deep- seated feelings as a child of having been “home alone” in my home, of feeling unloved by my parents, of feeling unworthy of their love, of being increasingly shunned by my older brother–who increasingly saw me as a challenge, as he was increasingly unable to live up to his top billing as the First Born–and consequently of having a strong need to be important, needed, seen, and loved. Something had taken control. It was as if another person, the “real” me, imprisoned and hidden inside me all these decades, had broken free and had stepped outside without my permission to expose himself.

It was a painful moment. I saw all so clearly how the dead hands of the past were controlling me in the present. I saw how I carried all the feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, and diminished self-worth wherever I went–how all the needs to be important, needed, seen, and loved, which I had been denying and hiding all these decades behind masks of humor, degrees and resumes, position of authority–influenced everything that I believed and did, both personally and professionally.

Someone or something had started performing spiritual surgery. It opened personal issues, the unresolved resentment–long suppressed, denied, or ignored–that were crucial in shaping who I was and what I did, and were crucial to face if I was to reshape both myself and what I do.

For the next few days at Hyde, I felt myself being stripped to my core spiritually. The regional wilderness retreat in the mountains of north Georgia a week later–which you will read about in two Random Thoughts entitled “The Climb” and “Blueberries”– continued this deep, painful, and honest ongoing conversation with myself. I started a never-ending challenge of my values, a review of my priorities, a ripping away of my masks, a questioning of my identity, an examination of my purposes, a review of my life’s personal and professional goals, an identification of my weaknesses, and a discovery of my strengths.

This isn’t something that I enjoy admitting, but I’m not embarrassed by it. It was and still is part of me. From that moment on, as a colleague wrote about me, there was and is what a jazz musician might call a personal, professional, and curricular “back beat” of words that keep challenging me, keep me growing and learning: Who am I? Why am I doing what I am doing? How do I feel about what I and others are doing? Why do I teach? What is meaningful about what I do? What are things I need to do, should do, and can do if I am to have the chance of being a truer person as well as a truer teacher?

I consider this breakthrough one of the most important personal and professional moments of my life. On that day at Hyde, I started hammering away at and tearing down the walls, and I started to throw the locks and keys away. It was a time to find the strength and courage to admit that I needed to face up to and start letting go of the old illusions and fears, for overwhelming and new possibilities and potentials. As Pink Floyd’s lyrics from “Coming Back to Life” say, “I knew the moment had arrived for killing the past and coming back to life.” While I knew that not every thing could be changed immediately or even completely, however I faced it, nothing could be changed until and unless I faced it and continue to face it.

Enough for now. I’m drained. More sometime later when the spirit strikes me.

Make it a good day.



Lordy!! Have you ever gone out power walking four miles before the sun rose and returned to find your shoes filled with the water that came pouring down your legs and that your skin and grubbies had turned green with mildew? That will give you some idea of the weather this morning. In fact, it’s been raining every day for the last two weeks, and it hasn’t even cooled off!

As I was “water skiing” through this south Georgia sweat bath, this day after the 218th birthday weekend of a country that sanctifies the nobility of the individual, I started thinking about how students have a right to be treated on campuses no less as the individuals that they are off campus, that all too many professors, more than most of us want to acknowledge, are so quick to proclaim, “I am student oriented.” They give lip- service to the individuality of the students, and yet see and treat coldly them as the faceless and nameless in a crowd. It wasn’t just that it was the day after watching the rockets red glare that got me thinking about this. It was also that a conversation I had with a non-traditional student last week popped into my head once again as it has almost every day for the last week or so.

It was the third day of class. I was sitting in a soft chair in the library. I was waiting for Maria (not her real name) who had come up to me at the end of the class and had said she wanted to talk with me after her next class. We agreed to meet in the library, my “office” for that day. I didn’t know what it was all about. I thought she had a scheduling problem or wanted some help with the class library assignments or was needed some reassurance about my unique approach to teaching. When she arrived, she was very nervous. She quickly sat down.

“What can I help you with?” I asked. She hesitated. Look around anxiously to see if anyone was listening. She started talking. It was not what I expected.

“You touched me when you talked about your son in class and how what you went through with him changed your outlook on life, your attitude about yourself and people around you, and how you ran the class.”

My “blueberries” came into play. I quickly riveted on every word and gesture. All the surrounding sounds stilled and the surrounding movements froze into a silent tableau. The background scenery faded into a darkness as if she were in a bright spot light. She tearfully told me about her endless struggles with her ADD teenage son, her bout with waves of guilt as a parent, her fears for her son’s future, her fights with a less than supporting husband, her terror at an possibly impending divorce, her anger at unsupporting local medical and educational systems, and her combat with self-doubt and weak self-confidence. For over an hour she poured out her soul to me. For over an hour she did most of the talking and I did most of the listening. As I focused in her facial expressions and body language, tears periodically formed in my eyes, my breathe occasionally shortened, silent cries swelled in my throat. My heart ached. The cushioned chair could not cushion the hurt within her betrayed by her voice and face. “I can’t get away from it or stop thinking about it,” she with a quivering voice, “I can’t sleep. I can’t concentrate. I can’t study. It’s consuming me. What can I do? How did you handle it.”

Without hesitation, I told about the road through hell each member of my family traveled together and separately: the misdiagnosis, the mistreatment, the indifference and uncooperation of the schools, the accusations, the poor treatment, the daily wars, the family disfunction, the trouble with the law, the failing grades, the frustration and anger, the attempts at escaping, the ostracism, the depression, the inability to think or feel, the isolation, the loneliness, the confusion, the doubt, the second-guessing, the drinking, the running away, the phone calls in the middle of the night, the climbing the walls at the sound of a siren, the tensing up at the ring of the telephone, at each other’s throats, blaming everyone, cursing everyone, screaming at God, yelling at each other, and the desperation. Then, came the finding of a very special school, sacrificing our retirement nest egg, enduring virtual bankruptcy, the retreats, the challenge groups, the uncomfortable inward journey into ourselves, facing the hard truth about ourselves and each other, changing our values and outlooks, saving our son and ourselves, and beginning to find peace.

“I’m no fairy godfather with a magic wand that can turn your pumpkin into a coach.,” I told her. “I don’t give advice. I can only tell you what I did and what I learned. Forget the quick and easy cures that everyone will throw at you. There are none. But, if you walk the hard road and ask yourself the hard questions about yourself, and not rest until you start getting honest answers, when it’s all over you will have started entering into another world. You’ll have found something no one can give you. You’ll have the knowledge that you are stronger and worthier inside than you ever thought you were. And you can apply that understanding to everything you do. I know. I’ve been there.”

Finally, I asked her. “Why did you tell me all these personal things. After all, we’ve known each other for only the three hours of class time. We’re strangers.”

She answered something like, “I don’t somehow feel you are. I don’t know. I just felt that I could trust you with me, and that you cared, really cared. You could understand. You was honest about yourself with us. I thought I could be honest with you about me. When one of the others asked why you teach the way you teach so differently from everyone else, you didn’t come up with some cockeyed, high-sounding bull shit we would expect from a professor. You respected us enough to be honest and open. A bunch of us talked after class and none of us have ever seen a professor be human enough to bare his soul to the students. It really impressed us.”

“Thank you, but I’m sorry I couldn’t really help you,” I apologized.

“You helped me a great deal,” she answered.

“What did I do?” I asked.

“You’re the first one who cared enough to listen, just really listen, and let me get it out. I think I see what I have to do. If you could deal with it and find some peace, I think I can too. I just have to find the courage. You made me feel so much better and hopeful and confident.”

I’m glad she did. I went home emotionally drained and physically exhausted.

I believe with all my heart and soul that caring, not technology or technique or subject mastery, is the most powerful teaching tool at our disposal. If we can put the student at ease, let the student know that we care, we’ll have a better relationship. Now, don’t confuse sympathy and understanding with slacking off. To the contrary, caring about each individual student makes teaching far less casual and cavalier than lecturing to a class and giving a standardized test that the computer grades. It’s a struggle to balance understanding with being reasonably demanding. But if we care, if we stop talking enough to learn how to listen, no matter what we demand, the student is more likely to trust us and do what we’re asking. I have seen over and over and over again that to be acutely sensitive to and understanding of students is the hammer and saw of teaching, that caring more about how they feel and think outside the classroom than how they answer a question or what they got on a quiz at times almost has a healing effect.

I think part of the public dismay with education is the almost loss of close human contact. Professors are almost totally concerned with asking of the student “what do you know?” So rarely do they care enough to ask “who are you?” The students are more than what they do. They are more than an I.D. number, a name on a seating chart and in a role book, a tuition payment, or an entry on a grade sheet or transcript. There’s heart and soul and personality. They come into class with distracting and debilitating economic, social, psychological and spiritual issues.

Nothing proclaims this louder than an exercise I run about the second or third day of each class. It’s part of the introductory bonding and trusting “stuff” I do for about a week or more at the beginning of each class. It’s a simple exercise. I have the students draw two intersecting perpendicular lines on a sheet of paper. At each point of the compass, they write a word that expresses how they feel at that particular moment. Next, I ask them to list five personal concerns they have in their lives at the moment, marking the most urgent of the five. Finally, I ask them to write a few sentence statement about what they were thinking about at that moment. Then, they discuss the words and the reasons for these words with the members of their groups. Finally, I ask them to voluntarily share with the rest of the class. And, many do it.

This exercise usually offers one of the most heart-rendering insights into the students. For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about the meaning of the results of this exercise as well as the first journal entries as I work to get to know my students on a personal level. I will not deny they have made me sigh forlornly more than once or brought a tug in my heart and a tear to my eyes.

Of the 43 students in the class, 38 wrote two or more words associated with depression, stress or tension! They wrote words like: sad, concerned, confused, distrustful, anxious, stress-out, melancholy, frightened, angry, scared, worried, depressed, nervous, lazy, homesick, lonely, tense, apprehensive, impatient, lost, worthless, unsure, incapable, uncertain, hurting, worn, hollow, weak, and helpless, limited, doubt, distracted, and shallow.

Of those 43 students, 33 had three or more immediate non- academic concerns: pregnancy, parents, girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands, children, housing, finances, illness, and jobs.

But, listen to what’s going on in these student’s lives and what’s weighing heavily like the proverbial rock on their hearts and souls:

“I wonder if my folks know how to encourage anyone?”

“I was always told I couldn’t get anything right.”

“Everyone is telling me what’s good for me and what to do. No one trusts me to make my own decisions.”

“My husband is in Korea and I can’t stop thinking and worrying about him.”

“My folks and I just plain and simple hate each other, and I don’t know what I did to deserve such shitty treatment.”

“My father, the holier-than-thou preacher, disowned me and kicked me out of the house because I’m dating an African- American. So much for Christian love and charity.”

“I am battling my fear of speaking with strangers. I’ve got to overcome this anxiety if I’m going to be a teacher.”

“If I try to get ahead, all my so-called friends call me a whitey. If I lay back, I’m called a dumb nigger. It’s a constant bitch.”

“All I’ve been taught is to distrust people. I guess I am anti-social, but I don’t want to be. It’s effecting everything. My classes, my job, and my relationship with my boyfriend. I’m afraid I’m going to lose him and everything else if I don’t find someone to help change me.”

“I am frustrated trying to be a mother, go to school, be a wife, clean the house, cook the meals, be at my husband’s XXXXXX beckoning. It’s just too much, but I want to make something of myself and being everyone else’s slave and getting no support doesn’t help.”

“My husband is jealous and scared that if I get a degree, I’ll be smarter than he is and will leave him. I have to constantly reassure him. It’s a tough distraction.”

“I just pure and simple don’t like myself and that makes everything suffer.”

“I have a speech impediment. It’s an endless battle. I’ve been reserve for years because of this. I feel so self-conscious about what others will think.”

“I have a neat, safe bubble. I want out. But I’m so afraid to pop it and expose myself.”

“I am struggling with the memories of a dysfunctional family with a father who was a weekend drunk and who tried to commit incest with all his daughters while my mom didn’t do a damn thing about it. I’m 49 and I still feel so dirty and guilty after all these years.”

“I’m homesick and miss by daddy and mommy.”

“These days are especially hard. I just found out my dad is not my real father. Having my mother lie to me all my life has ruined by ability to believe and trust anyone.”

“Our refrigerator is broke. We desperately need one. We have a new baby that my husband cares for while I’m at school. But we don’t have no money.”

“Things are rough at home because my husband doesn’t enjoy his job and he brings his irritations into the house and takes it out on us and the kids.”

“I don’t want to become the drunken, doped-up person I was at FSU. This is my chance and I’m afraid I will screw up again.”

“I’m so afraid my dad will die. He has diabetes real bad is going down hill real fast, but he wants me here to better myself. I am so scared I am shaking.

“I’m 21. I’m diabetic, but my attitude sucks. I don’t care what happens. I really do because I just married a wonderful guy, but I’m just XXXXXX at God for doing this to me.”

“My mind is everywhere but here. I just found out that my boyfriend has been f——g my best friend behind my back. It really hurts. What did I do to deserve this. I’m so depressed. I can’t go two minutes without thinking about it.”

“I’ve been out of school for 20 years. I don’t know if I can cope.”

“I’m going through my parents divorce. It’s shattering, and killing my brother and sister. Can’t think of anything else.”

“My back is killing me a lot. I got hit by a DUI, am 6 months pregnant, can’t take anything for the pain, just have to suffer through it.”

“I want so much for this baby to improve things between me and my husband. I am so afraid that even after I have the baby I’ll get divorced and be alone.”

“I’m a single mom and my ex is trying to get the kids away from me.”

“I’ve got to stop being down on myself and build up some self-esteem.”

“Everyone tells me to act like an adult and they treat me like a child. I’m not sure what that means or how to do it.”

“I worry, worry, worry, so much, I think too much, about grades. I don’t have time to learn, but I need them to get into law school.”

“I am the first in my family to go to college. Everyone has such high expectations of me. I am so afraid of failing them.”

“My best friends just got killed by a damn DUI. Cut down by some drunken, redneck XXX XXXX. He was going to be an engineer. I just helped bury him. He ain’t going to engineer nothing anymore. Why should I give a shit about anything? What’s all this stuff for anyhow?

“I’m a struggling Christian. I have been reborn, but I have a heavy heart that my heart is not pure. I don’t think I am worthy of my Saviour.”

How could anyone not be touched by these struggles? Here are 33 students out of 43 who have expressed their inner feelings on the second day of class. The things they have talked about were about their personal experiences. They are very powerful. They’re common, daily, experiences. That’s heavy stuff, real heavy. The kind of anxiety these students have expressed preys on them, distracts them, quiets them, stunts them, wilts them.

They remind me that if we’re deaf to what the student’s are saying about themselves with word or gesture or even silence, we become blind to why they do what they do. And, when we become blind, we become uninvolved, cold, cynical and callous.

If you talk to the students who sit in the classes, and listen, you’d hear that the number one concern is something like “my professor is not the kind of person I want a teacher to be.” I hear and read all the time such comments like: “She doesn’t listen to me;” “He doesn’t give a damn if I’m there or not;” “I’m just a number or a name,” “She doesn’t even know who I am; or “He just treat me as a person”; “He just talks and ignores us;” “None of us get any respect in the class.”

What they do, or don’t do, should not be a trigger merely to say coldly “they don’t know” or “they can’t do it” or “they don’t belong.” It should be a trip wire for to ask “what’s going on in your life?” It should be a clue to ask that unusual question of “who are you?” and then to say, “tell me about yourself.”

I think “touch” and “feel” is education’s real professional secret. To ignore this truth is educational neglect. We just can’t lecture, not lift up our eyes, treat student as background to our profession, listen to their questions and comments as if they were static that interferes with out brilliant oration, and walk out the room. So many of us haven’t made the time to listen to their fears. We’ve been too busy talking, working on our committees, researching and writing, and deliberately avoiding. We must take the time to get to know the student, how that student lives, what are their values, what their social support is. If I don’t know that a student is worried about her father’s health and may die, I will be less effective in teaching her and she will be less likely to learn.

I probe the students as if each was a mystery to record. I don’t have the ability to solve the mystery, but I want to recognize it and understand it as best I can, for my understanding, perception, imagination will affect the way I relate to the student. I want to know what the student wants, expects, fear, worries about. It’s easy for us to say what a student knows and describe what a student does. We all can do that blindfolded with one hand tied behind our backs while standing on our heads. All to many of us merely look at a lack of information and lack of skills, and ignore what the student feels. It’s the difference between merely observing that, “Johnny can’t read” and realizing that “Everyone is telling Johnny he is not smart enough to read.” The problem is not that Johnny can’t read, it’s that he believes what everyone is telling him and doesn’t try to read.

I think we have so grossly underestimated the attitude with which students confront their education, and the impact such attitudes have on how they do in a class or during their entire class career, not to mention their lives. What kind of person they are, what they are feeling about themselves and other, filter what they what they read and hear and do. I can’t teach students or help them learn if I do not know what makes them tick. A good teacher listens and then addresses the student’s feeling.

So many students are from dysfunctional families and dysfunctional school systems. It’s humble and frightening to think that sometimes the compassionate teacher is the closest they have come to having some kind of support. My mission is to share my understanding of the anxiety they feel, to help them feel something positive from what otherwise is a scary situation, and can deepen the emotional scars. I want each student to feel comfortable and special, to believe that they can do anything they want if they put their mind to it, to take charge of their circumstances, and through caring for themselves make a difference.

All this, then, raises the question for all of us. Do we want to get into the soul and heart, as well as the head, of the student? Do we have the generosity to do this, the desire to do this, the patience to do this, the strength to do this? If we don’t, maybe we ought to sell shoes!

I think we need a need educational approach that goes beyond subject transmission. We have to think about education as a “caring” system as much as if not far more than as an “informing” or “training” system. I see education stretching beyond the confines of the classroom and restrictions of the subject. It roams into what we value in society and who we are as human beings. No, education begins with caring. Of course, then, so does everything else.

Make it a good day.