Essays and Links
The Dawn, the Dark, and the Horse I Didn't Ride in On (an odd, philosophical, semi-romantic meandering)
Writing and Education
Showing Class (writing by current or former
I'll Just Have
Toys to Toys
Scribbles and Bits (neat lines or paragraphs by various students)
That Familiar Falling Tree
Most people are familiar with the psuedo-mystical, quasi-koan, "If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound." For many years, I've been among those who say, "Of course not. The falling tree merely creates vibrations in the air, but the human brain is required to convert those vibrations into what we call sound." On other occasions, I might say, "If a tree falls in the forest, and it's not falling on me, I don't care." So for many years, I've been guilty of a serious form of ego-centrism.
The "no one" is assumed to be human. Some people have stood by the, "There's bound to be an animal around to hear it" theory, but that is usually scoffed at as side-stepping. Still, whether a human is there or not, the vibrations are noted by all the flora and fauna in the area,everything from the macrocosm to the microcosm. The dirt itself is affected by the vibrations through the air and earth, whether you take that idea to the Gaia level or not.
We are not separate from nor above the eco-system, simply a part of that system that may be more self-aware than other parts, possibly more capable of self-will. We may be better able to keep track of such fallings, compile and compare information, and decide how that pattern of information should influence our actions.
Some consider me too philosophical, too intellectual, and others consider me worse things. It seems that they are not entirely wrong. We are puzzle-seeking, puzzle-solving creatures, and some of us like to stir the waters a bit by questioning assumptions behind the puzzles. Unfortunately, we are sometimes so smug in our questioning, in our fun with upsetting other people's assumptions, that we forget to question ourselves a little farther, forget that as individuals or as a species, we may not be the center of the universe, "merely players" as Shakespeare pointed out so long ago.
Converse, Critique, Question
Would you like to know when the site gets updated? Drop me an e-mail, and I'll add you to the list. Much of my writing has been for the antiques site lately, but I have a long list of essays in assorted stages of revision for this site. The people who e-mail often apologize because they assume I'm swamped with e-mails. I only wish it were true. I'm a teacher from the marrow out, so give me questions. I'm a writer, so I also need an audience. Sometimes that means applause, sometimes rotten tomatoes.
From time to time, a student decides to use some of my ideas, or perhaps they even quote me in a paper. Great, I'll take what fame and traces of immortality I can get. However, I should also warn such students that my ideas are not always the things that your teachers want to hear. I'm a stubborn idealist, and that puts me at odds with quite a bit of education theory and literary criticism. Sure, I think I'm right about some things, and I'm sometimes convinced of my own brilliance, but don't jump into the fire blindfolded.