Depression and How to Assist Someone to Deal With it
ACADEMIC GOALS FOR THE CLASS
Running head: THE ACADEMIC GOALS FOR THE SEMESTER
The Academic Philosophy and Goals for Our Course:
A First Inquiry
Steven Christopher Ippolito
The work of Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI has attracted considerable attention, as of late, in the area of higher education. Its focus on the value-laden timelessness of the liberal arts education represents the essence of conservative values in classical teaching and culture. Traditionally, the goal of the liberal arts education is to stress what is highest and best in life and learning. Thus, education, from the Latin, e ducere (to lead out; to draw out) signifies, in Dr. Arnn’s conceptualization, the junction of the empirical and the sensible (that which comes from outside a person) and the rational (the intellectual center of a person’s being), the logos, or the soul. The liberal arts education re-creates the human being; it envisions the intellect, not as an epiphenomenon of the brain and nervous system, but something that is more in the Medieval construction, something where the intellect is one of the three main powers of the soul, the other two being memory (memoria); and the other, the will (voluntas). Moroever, the liberal arts education teaches the intellectual and moral virtues, something that is sorely lacking from the contemporary classroom, onsite or virtual. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to reference and advocate the academic views of Larry Arnn and the fundamental meaning of the liberal arts education, past and present, for all students, in order to draw our or lead out of them from their most profound center of being (soul; logos), and engender the work of intellectual and personal transformation in both the classroom and in all of life.
Keywords: logos, learning, soul, will, memory, intellect, liberal arts education, virtues
The Academic Philosophy and Goals for Our Course:
A First Inquiry
One of the great educators in the United States, Dr. Larry P. Arnn (2012), President of Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI, has set forth what one might call, the Hillsdale Way, that is, a view to what is best in teaching and learning. With these views, I wholeheartedly agree, primarily because they are predicated on sound teaching experience, and a basic common sense that never seems to go out of fashion. The purpose of this brief paper – actually it is an introduction to all my Monroe students – is to reference these views, the core of the Hillsdale Way, for they will be the basis of how this class, indeed, all my classes, will proceed throughout the semester.
The Liberal Arts Education
The word education is derived from two Latin words, e ducere, meaning “to draw out,” or “to lead forth”. Education, then, is an attempt by a teacher to draw forth the best from the center of a student’s existential Self, by introducing the student to that which is best from the world of ideas, and phenomenal Being (Gr. όν). The center of one’s being, the anima (Lt. soul) or logos (λόγος), which involves “principle,” or “reason,” a critical component immanent within the human essence, permeates all reality, as “an active rational and spiritual principle” (Logos, 2012). The logos, however, cannot be separated from the human person; intrinsically, therefore, the logos or soul is the critical dimension in the process of education and amongst the highest and best aspects of what it means to be a human person. Thus, education can never be divorced from the development of a completely formed human being, for in the struggle to master the rigors of learning, the student confronts the logos.
Through education, the learner takes what is best from the history of innumerable learners’ experiences in many times and many places. In education, the student must bring forth what is best in his or her deepest, highest, and most profound levels of being, if education is to be considered meaningful. The profound depths of being are called by some the soul; and with that term I have no substantial objection. Historically, one learns that the relationship of the soul and philosophical speculation can be dated to “the time of the pre-Socratic philosophers” (Kelly, 2004, p. 9). Yet, even before the Greek experience, the concept of soul was already time-honored and venerable in the lives of human beings (Kelly, 2004). In various cultures, East and West, the soul was conceived as the “breath of life that survived death” (Kelly, 2004, p. 9). But it was in the West, however, that the Greeks would develop the concept of soul to an important degree (Kelly, 2004). The Greeks regarded the soul as a powerful principle of one’s life and experience; it was the soul, in this view that characterized the human person as a “unique individual” (Kelly, 2004, p. 9).
[The soul] is the seat of human character, and the ground of the possibility of our awareness of one’s existence. This soul became the object of higher education. Education released a person’s soul from its immersion in the physical and mental environment into which it had been born and prepared the person to think in a new
way about a new kind of object. Socrates told his fellow Athenians to ‘care for their souls.’ They should turn their thoughts away from the changing individual things of
this world and look into the nature of things (Kelly, 2004, p. 9) (emphasis added).
Plato, the student of Socrates, made it a standard practice for educators to “pass from seeing to understanding, from a practical grasp of how things work to a theoretical understanding of their nature” (Kelly, 2004, p. 11). Apropos of the soul in relationship to learning, the Greeks utilized a specific term in their language: paideia, in order to refer to the “state of cultivation of the soul that is fostered by education (Kelly, 2004, p. 9). In succeeding centuries, the medieval scholastic philosophers, the founders of the university tradition in Europe, and their intellectual descendants in the New World of America would build upon the Greek experience in regard to matters like the soul. The academic heirs of the Greek experience, moreover, would come to understand the intellect to be one of the traditional powers of the soul, and not simply an epiphenomenon of the brain and the nervous system (not to denigrate that most marvelous piece of human equipment that helps us to understand the way we do), but a reality of the human spirit that makes us different from all the other species of the earth.
The intellect, then, is what concerns us in the fundamental experience of education, though the application of the intellect is not by any means the only issue in good education. Learning is one of the most challenging emotional experiences of a person’s life. Education can never be simply a matter of rote memorization of facts and figures, but rather a comprehensive experience that necessarily challenges the whole person, to which any good student or teacher who has ever struggled with individual course work can attest. Additionally, this challenge would come to comprise a central concern in the modern liberal arts education. For in time, a belief would emerge that the goal of a liberal arts education is to promote “the highest and best learning is that which ’develops the minds’ and ‘improves the hearts’ of the students; in other words, it teaches the intellectual and moral virtues’” (Arnn, 2012, p. xi). It is this belief that is being advanced unhesitatingly in this paper.
In short, the liberal arts education represents an attempt to secure for individual students what is highest and best in life. This is a value system that is not heard nearly enough nowadays. Approaching education in this manner, allows powerful realities to take place on a daily basis in any good classroom (or online course in cyberspace). It is precisely what I hope to see happen
in this class, just as I have seen it happen frequently in many of the classes at Monroe College. Thus, whatever the academic major, whatever the class, the goal described in this paper, the unification of heart and mind, and the virtues that are both intellectual and moral, for me represent that which is drawn out (e ducere) from the midst of diligent learners; and it is always taking place when good students know what their goals are, and when they are determined to succeed. My hope, too, is to for all of you to succeed, in this and every class, and in precisely this way.
That which is gained in higher education. In the contemporary world, racked by political instability, dangers of various kinds, and seemingly interminable economic distress, some have wondered aloud as to what the need or purpose of learning is, anymore. This, I am sure, is a response to uncertainty. The answer to these problems, however, is not to promote less learning, but to encourage more of it. After all, it is going to take some mighty clever people – and there are not as many of these in evidence nowadays – to rectify these issues.
Fundamentally, then, the student learns to learn in his or her academic career. If there is no learning, the positive goals of a healthy society are made that much more difficult to realize. Thus, in the basic classroom, is where an entire universe of positive and life-affirming changes will begin. Education is a work with a marked beginning and an end point. That termination point is the conferring of a diploma and degree at the end of a course of study. Yet, it is not really the end, nor does it indicate the end of the work, as it were. More properly, it is a new beginning.
The goal of the work. On graduation day, the student will take his or her place in the community of educated human beings. It is quite a good feeling, too. The realization that college educated people are giving years of life to this goal puts them in a unique place. It may not be clear at this point, but when the work is completed, the diligent student will see more, and he or she will understand more. Indeed, they will know more, and for all time, if they have been honest with themselves, they will be able to grasp and express themselves on a range of issues and matters that are not necessarily clear to others. The drawing out of the logos through e ducere will have done its work. This is what a person gains in education. It is hard work, to be sure, but, then, anything that means something will always have a price. I think you will see, too, that it is a price worth paying.
Hence, I say thanks for coming to Monroe, and living the dream of the liberal arts education (Arnn, 2012). All the best, too, to those who have helped you along the way and who continue to help you, now: family, good friends, and significant others. You knew quite lot from simply living life when you came here; and you will know more and have a better life, too, when it is finally time to leave. Till then, let us seek what is highest and best in life and in formal learning — in this class and every class at Monroe College.
The word education, from two Latin words, e ducere, meaning to draw out, or to lead out, is an attempt to draw the best from the center of a student’s being. The center of one’s being, the logos or the soul is what is impacted in the business of education. A reciprocal action occurs in education and learning; learning of information, but also the development of the intellect which calls forth a developmental action from the center of the student’s being, the soul, logos, or anima. Education as a way of life never ends for the educated person. For all the student’s days, during and after formal education, he or she will continue to learn. Education is a developmental process, a humanizing, refining activity that like the liberal arts, themselves, yields what is the best in life and in the human being.
Arnn, L. (2012). Foreward. In L. Arnn & The Hillsdale College Politics Faculty (Eds.), The U. S.
Constitution: A reader (pp. xi – xii). Hillsdale College Press: Hillsdale, MI.
Duignan, B., & Sampaolo, M. (2012). Logos. In Encyclopedia Britannica online. Retrieved
Kelly, E. (2004). The basics of western philosophy. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.