Most people, if they think about it, probably live their life around some kind of rhythm. As a kid I remember my dad working seven days a week at the paper mill with a week off in the spring to do some home maintenance and a week off in the summer so that we could go on vacation, most often to the beach in South Carolina. I imagine my dad was probably entitled to more time off but simply did not or could not afford to take it. I erroneously assumed that everyone’s dad worked seven days a week. Turns out, that was not the case. As a professor the rhythm of my life follows the natural flow of the academic year. I think in terms of mid-August to mid-December and February to May as the times when I am the busiest. The other months of the year allow me more freedom in how I approach my days and weeks. In a sense, my year doesn’t run from January to December but from mid-August to mid-August. Well, it’s the middle of May and the school year is coming to an end. Students and faculty are busy with exams and wrapping things up. At the end of this week we will don academic regalia again to celebrate with another group of graduates. This means that it is time for summer! I really enjoy these rhythms of my life.
Of course, with the end of another school year comes another opportunity to reflect on the nature of what I do and to reflect on the work that my students have done. This year like so many years before it has seen lots of learning happening and this is evidenced when I examine my students and they report all that they have learned. I can see it when they recount the contents of Kant’s Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic and when they compare a Lockean concept of liberty with the freedom found by Frederick Douglass through education, especially through learning how to read. This makes me reflect on the nature of education in general. Now, my colleague Paul Spears is the expert in educational philosophy so I do not presume to speak with any real authority. I seek merely to reflect.
Though I teach in an honors institute, I am not naïve that all of my students are enrolled in the institute for the sake of getting a good (sometimes even a great) education. I’m sure there’s some number of students who are simply at Torrey because of the word “honors” in our title – “I’m an honors student therefore I must go to the honors institute.” Others are likely here to meet the expectation placed upon them by their parents – “My parents have always wanted me to be an honors student so I’ve come to Torrey.” I also don’t doubt that there are numbers of Torrey students who simply don’t know why they are at Torrey. For those students I can simply lament that they are likely not taking full advantage of the education that they are being offered, not only in the honors institute but from Biola in general. Perhaps they will look back one day and say, “I should have taken greater advantage of the opportunity to go to Biola and Torrey.” Of course, if they never come to this realization that does not invalidate the fact that we are offering them a quality education. Could it be better if they tried harder? Sure, but we’re not here to babysit much less force learning onto someone who is not interested.