What’s with the Blog Title?

WalrusCarpenter   “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
   “To talk of many things:
   Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
   Of cabbages–and kings–
   And why the sea is boiling hot–
   And whether pigs have wings.”  

(Lewis CarrollThe Walrus and the Carpenterfrom Through the Looking Glass, 1872)

So goes a favorite stanza of a poem that, when I hear it, always transports me back, way back, to my childhood… and so begins a new blog for me, giving me room to reflect on the life afforded me as a professor in a liberal arts context at Luther College.  While I teach physics primarily, one of the wonderful things that has happened over the past several years is that I have been able to join the faculty who teach in Paideia, our first-year common course that covers, generally, the humanities.  As a freshman at Whitman College many moons ago, I thoroughly enjoyed our core course – which then was divided into three tracks: Great Works, Ancient Greece, and The Origins of Modernism, the last of which I chose.

As the years went on and as I became more and more convinced that I wanted to teach physics in a liberal arts college where genuine conversation across disciplines and divisions of the college were commonplace, and where I could someday teach a course like that which I had.  That vision came to fruition in the fall of 2010, when I was first able to become a member of the Paideia faculty as well as carry my usual load in physics, and I haven’t looked back since.  It’s a great pleasure to be able to straddle the humanities/science divide, and take students along on a journey of discovery as they read works of literature, history and philosophy that they’d otherwise probably not encounter.    I’ve stumbled and gone on with fits and starts, but have grown to truly enjoy this part of my teaching life… and hope to be a part of Paideia for years, nay decades, to come.

This blog is simply an avenue for me to reflect on teaching, particularly in the liberal arts context, but also on the use of the humanities in higher education, the things one can learn through exploration of classic (and not-so-classic) works in the humanities in general, etc.   I’m sure my reflections will expand further into the realm of the general state of education (higher, secondary, primary, home education etc) and the like… but I hope you enjoy and welcome comments and dialog along the way.