Diversity

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which started yesterday, and in memory of the terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001 I am dedicating this weekend’s combined post to diversity.

Humanists educate about a wide array of cultural aspects, especially diversity in their classrooms and beyond.

My colleagues and I will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with our students.

On September 11, 2001 my mother called early in the morning.

I assumed she was calling to wish me and my younger brother a good day.

Instead, she instructed my brother to shave his beard and told us both that if anyone asked where we were from, not to say that we were Middle Eastern. She spoke with the fear of an immigrant.

It was after eight that morning and The Twin Towers had already been struck.

Some time later, still in Baltimore, a cab driver asked me where I was from.

I quickly answered, “Maryland.”

He sensed my apprehension.

He said to me, very kindly, “Don’t let ignorance make you feel ashamed of where you’re from.”

Ignorance is the real enemy of diversity.

The cab driver’s advice is the advice I would give to anyone from any background, whether they are immigrants or not.

 

Exoteric

  1. Popular, simple, commonplace.
  2. Suitable to be communicated to the general public.

Not to be confused with esoteric, which means intended for or likely to be understood by specialists.

The best way to avoid confusion between these antonyms is to focus on the prefixes.

“Ex-” indicates “out”, so the word exoteric can be thought of as an outward dissemination of information.

“Es-” indicates a separation, so the word esoteric can be linked to the development of information by experts.

What is esoteric becomes exoteric by the use of clear explanations.

Loyola University MD

This past week marked the start of classes at Loyola University Maryland.

In the weeks leading up to the first day, I met my friendly and supportive colleagues, gotten acquainted with the new campus and started lesson planning.

I am teaching two classes of SN 103, or Intermedio I and we are off to a great start.

Having taught this course before is helpful, but as I mentioned in my post on “prep” work, working with new materials and students always affords the opportunity to learn new pedagogical techniques.

We have begun with two days of review of elements concepts. My students wowed me with their ability to reproduce the techniques I illustrated on a given topic and then apply them and explain the next topic to me. This is a cross between a lecture and flipping the classroom.

I am looking forward to the fourteen weeks ahead as we delve our way through new material, working toward our goals of increased fluency and cultural appreciation.

And of course, there is a bit more “prep” for me to do on this drizzly Sunday afternoon.

If you have taught or are teaching any subject at any level, please leave your thoughts on the start of the school year in the comments or drop me a line on the Contact page.

 

Emerson on Beauty

Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of my favorite figures of American literature. I was introduced to his work in high school.

I quoted him on nature and books some weeks ago. Nature is a recurring theme in literature, as we’ve seen recently in the words of Blaise Pascal also.

Beauty is a recurring theme in literature also, often as it is related to and derived from nature.

Take, for example, the old adage that ties truth to beauty. This is the Ancients’ conception of truth as related to beauty.

In modern times, truth has become fraught with danger, as can be found with Nietzsche’s warning of nihilism.

As Oscar Wilde said, “Those who go beneath the surface, do so at their peril.”

Both Nietzsche and Wilde died in 1900.

But Emerson removed the philosophical quandaries and focused on aesthetics in saying, “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” He died in 1882.

Of course, modern times then found another philosophical quandary, “How do we define beauty in order to decide what qualifies as art?”

Ultimately, in deciding what beauty there is in truth as well as in art, we should consider how philosophy, aesthetics and the dependence of modernity on ages past.

The humanities are often criticized for their subjectivity. But as we can see from the viewpoints of these three contemporaries, subjectivity allows choice.

 

 

 

 

Locavore

A person who attempts to eat locally.

Many Maryland locavores will enjoy the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay, which includes crabs.

What do locavores enjoy in your area?

Cyclopean

  1. gigantic, vast.
  2. of or characteristic of the Cyclops.

The Cyclops was a one-eyed monster that existed in Ancient times. What would we find in history or in our time that would be classified as Cyclopean?