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Snowflakes

Posted December 24 by John Birmingham

I followed a link from Murph's facebook page to this lovely piece of writing by a former special forces soldier who had gone back to college, at Yale, at the age of 52. He expected snowflakes. The snowflakes surprised him.

My first class of the semester was absolutely terrifying. I don’t know if it was so for the kids in my class, but it damn sure was for me. It was a literature seminar with the amazing Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature, Professor David Quint. He is an amazing human in that he has dedicated his life to literature, and he knows what he is talking about. The discussion was centered around the Iliad. I had read a bit of the Iliad in the middle part of my military career and decidedly didn’t get it. Listening to Professor Quint demonstrated exactly how much I didn’t “get it.” The other students looked like children to me. Hell, they are children, but when they speak, and some of them speak english as their second language, they sound like very well-spoken adults. My Navy issued graduate degree in cussing wasn’t going to help me out here. These young students had a good grasp of the literature and although they lacked much experience to bounce it off of, they were certainly “all in” on trying to figure out its underlying meaning.

The whole piece, at Medium, is one of the best essays I've read this year. Totally worth a few minutes.

6 Responses to ‘Snowflakes’

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted December 24
I see some of that with my kids and ms insomniac's also where they say or do something, and it makes you think, "wow, you have all your shit together". Other times not so much.
As for tuning into other news sources, I know it's important but it's so hard. There's so much dumb and it's impossible to deal with that for any length of time. It's dreadful to think it, but perhaps it will take half the state burning to get through to enough of these people for public sentiment to impact upon certain politicians, particularly Smoko, our very own King Cnut (I may not have the spelling right).
Anyhoo, Merry Christmas.

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WarDog reckons...

Posted December 24
What Insomniac said. The rivers of dumb are deep, swift and wide. It will need lots of bridge builders to navigate past them.

How do we get the whole planet to have that come to Yale moment?

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jason ducks in to say...

Posted December 24
I went back to school at 40 and again at 50. The kids in my class were younger than my kids. And they made me very comfortable that the world is in good hands. All we really need to do is get out of their way.

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Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted December 25
The main thing I do take issue with, and it is probably due to a difference in experience, is that the writer has never had to sit through professors who preach instead of teach, which is what the preponderance of my undergraduate experience was like.

Students, conversely, tend to be pretty cynical when it comes to this type of professor, perhaps as cynical as our former Navy Seal Writer here. So it is probably easier for him to find common ground with the students, his age notwithstanding.

What did surprise me was that he had a generally positive experience with his professors. The professors in my English Literature courses did tend to spend more time actually doing the job of teaching, well enough that I got a minor in the field. I suspect that if one goes to someplace like Yale you probably get a higher grade of professor.

In any case, his reflections on his fellow students is in line with what I have seen in my own classrooms. I still do not care much for, "space space," though. I feel that college is meant to be an abrasive, uncomfortable experience, designed to take a bit of forty grit to preconceived notions.

That is not a bad thing, especially as it sounds as if this guy is getting a fair bit of that.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted December 25
At least the opportunity to experience this kind of community and scholarship was something a greater percentage of the population has had in the last few decades than ever before in human history. I hope this chance will be offered to more, but I fear it may face a reduction in the future and humanity as a whole will be poorer for it.

Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted December 25
Post 9-11 GI Bill. The rest of us had to go somewhere, umm, else.

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