Lots to do, lots to do. German to learn, Greek drama and Plato to read, and yes, there’s this matter of reading more Xenophon. When I get home, I’m ordering books from Amazon promptly. What being back on campus has taught me is that there’s lots to do if I want to make classical political philosophy an academic specialty.
Other than that, there isn’t much to report. People are busy with their work, and I’m pretty busy with mine. While everyone here has been wonderful, one of the more interesting experiences I had this weekend was watching MTV, where this show “Made” was on (Episode 1028 – “Cheerleaders”). A group of cheerleaders wanted to be better; the squad’s seniors had a different coach every year, if I recall correctly. The cheerleaders had learned something from the previous coaches – when the new coach came, she evaluated them by telling them to come up with a cheer for charity quickly, and they did form up and put on a small show on short notice.
That having been said: this might have been the most impossible group of kids to work with in the history of the planet. The kids were initially incapable of tumbling and splits and the like – creating a really athletic, dynamic routine. The new coach got them running and doing gymnastics and training for hours on end, but had enormous discipline problems. Her first day truly coaching, the girls fought and two got kicked off the team. Getting people to attend practices and accept punishment turned out to be a huge problem. The coach actually quit at one point and the team had to ask her back. In the end, the routine the kids put on wasn’t bad at all, but it was an awful lot of effort and aggravation given the fact the coach was invited by the kids.
I’m writing all this because I wonder. There’s something I think I’ve detected recently, not sure: it’s like adults who aren’t parents have to prove themselves to kids. This world of “everyone’s a stranger” and “even your teacher could be a criminal” seems to mean that kids can mouth off to other adults and never be looked at as bad. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t have rights, or shouldn’t question authority. I deal with a lot of people who are too obedient, but even then, I’d say the way we’ve structured authority is curious. Even among conservatives, it’s like a few people are claiming absolute obedience for themselves and not teaching people how and on what grounds others should be given a chance for some respect. A world where everyone has to prove themselves to everyone else all the time is one where no one can learn from anyone else, and I do worry we think of education as simply taking from others, and I wonder what that may lead to.