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Monday, April 20, 2015

Worlds of Knowing: Dyson/West

There are so many worlds of knowing, and there's no way we can know it all.

I realized this as I once again stepped into a path where my knowledge level is weak, yet the path intrigued me so I took a few more steps.

It started with my #oneword journey, love. I've been searching the Internet for inspiration related to this word. I've reflected on the word, and I've also brought up the word in discussions with friends and family members which has led me to further reading and research. Last night, on the recommendation of my brother, I listened to some of Cornell West's speeches about love. I was inspired by his rhetoric and words. I was also inspired by the challenges he put forth related to living a life of love. West, a scholar, also seemed an artist to me.

More research led me to a recent debate with regard to West's work in this article written by Michael Eric Dyson. The article served to introduce me to names, scholarship, and history I knew little about. The article intrigued me as I thought about one's journey with regard to the life of the mind as well as American culture. More simply, the article made me think about collegial relationships too--the trust we put in each other when we interact, debate, and essentially grow each other in concert or disharmony.

As I think about this journey, I'm first humbled by lack of knowing much about the information and experiences illustrated in the article. I'm also in awe of the great intellect demonstrated in West's speeches and Dyson's prose--how brilliant. I find myself wishing I had the confidence that these men had as young scholars--the confidence to pursue intellectual dreams with drive and energy. I also find myself wondering how we relay the stories and experiences of intellectual pursuit to our students letting them know that it's okay to develop their minds and seek to understand and be educated far beyond "college and career readiness" but instead to affect the world in ways that matter and make a difference.

Where will I take this experience?

I'll continue to read. I have a host of Randall Kennedy's books by my bedside and perhaps this summer I'll have the time and inclination to begin reading those. I've met Kennedy, and I'm inspired by his journey.

I'll also continue to work to deepen the work I do with students so they have the chance to meet true intellects, the kind of people who are committed to searching for the truth and bringing about debate. I can introduce my students to these people through great literature, TED Talks, analysis of articles, discussion about big ideas, and the recreation of significant experiments, artistic creations, and innovative paths.

There is so much to know in this world, and so many ways to grow our intelligence and effort. West's words inspired me, and Dyson's call to keep our work fresh and timely inspired me too. So much to know, so many paths to travel, and in the end, if I let my #oneword journey of love lead the way, I'll likely continue to travel a path worth the effort and result. Onward.