Posts Tagged ‘education’

Intelligence and Desire–“I’m Smart”

August 7, 2013 7 comments


πάντες ἄνθρωποι τοῦ εἰδέναι ὀρέγονται φύσει.

People in their deepest core desire knowledge.

–Aristotle, first line of the Metaphysics.


Epiphanies are a more motley experience than often supposed. They can come at any time of the day–say, 3 am in the morning while you’re fixing a Dagwood sandwich–and they can appear crisp, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed (ready for a good day’s work) or bedraggled and apologetic (they didn’t make it across to the other side). Yes, sometimes the recipient must do some extra decoding to make the final connection(s).

So here is a epiphany RT received a couple of nights ago (he can’t even remember what he was reading at the time). The message? Intelligence doesn’t reflect any special accomplishment (and in this regard RT remembers that there’s a book out there that contains more than 500 proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem), but rather the desire to know.

In other words, Einstein was certainly intelligent, but it was his deep desire to understand, to go beyond the accepted theories of the time, that enabled him to achieve the fundamental insights that he did. Can the two–desire and achievement–really be separated?

And who doesn’t want to know? Everyone wants to know how the story turns out, and why. Intelligence manifests itself in so many ways–a child’s decision to climb a tree, the ability to tell a particular wine’s origins by sampling its bouquet, the ability to mimic someone’s mannerisms–that we tend to dismiss many indications of the mind’s activity as “normal” or “common.” So much the worse for us.

People alienated and outraged that their worth in the world has been overlooked or ridiculed–that is what we want to avoid. The answer? To get people to acknowledge, “I’m smart.”


And here is the connection that RT had to make: that the RT thread, “The Alphabet and Redefining Intelligence,” is one way of helping people to see themselves as fundamentally intelligent–in this case, by adopting an alphabet that is more truly phonetic and taught in a more logical way. A 6-year-old’s comment, “I like learning to read and write,” is what we’re aiming for. Teaching must first uncover the desire for knowledge, then proceed to teach the specifics.

The great majority of us are smarter than we realize.     RT


Photo: Bridge in Use During the Rainy Season (2008); Rutahsa Adventures. WikiCmns; CC 1.0 Generic.


Free School Under The Bridge, New Delhi, India

June 25, 2013 1 comment



what a beautiful story!   RT

(reposted from Toemail)


Free School Under The Bridge, New Delhi, India.

The House by the Side of the Road

June 15, 2013 3 comments

File:Appletons' Steuben House.jpg

A friend handed RT the following poem this morning. RT had never heard of the author, Sam Walter Foss, who will probably remain confined in the limbo of “minor” poets, the quality of this work nothwithstanding. But, apart from the pleasure and instruction that it offers, “House” reminds the practicing poet of several truths:


1) Simplicity is the most important characteristic of accessibility;

2) Traditional rhyme and structure can sometimes help bring out a poem’s message;

3) Most poems are, at some level, didactic.


Besides this, RT notes the use of 8-line stanzas (rather long), run-on lines, and the missing refrain at the end of stanza 4. And just what is the cynic’s ban? Could our author be Classically read? Could the simplicity conceal learning and thought? What is clear is that this poem offers a deep satisfaction, a harmony with time and place.   RT


The House by the Side of the Road


THERE are hermit souls that live withdrawn

In the place of their self-content;

There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,

In a fellowless firmament;

There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths

Where highways never ran-

But let me live by the side of the road

And be a friend to man.


Let me live in a house by the side of the road

Where the race of men go by-

The men who are good and the men who are bad,

As good and as bad as I.

I would not sit in the scorner’s seat

Nor hurl the cynic’s ban-

Let me live in a house by the side of the road

And be a friend to man.


I see from my house by the side of the road

By the side of the highway of life,

The men who press with the ardor of hope,

The men who are faint with the strife,

But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,

Both parts of an infinite plan-

Let me live in a house by the side of the road

And be a friend to man.


I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,

And mountains of wearisome height;

That the road passes on through the long afternoon

And stretches away to the night.

And still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice

And weep with the strangers that moan,

Nor live in my house by the side of the road

Like a man who dwells alone.


Let me live in my house by the side of the road,

Where the race of men go by-

They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,

Wise, foolish – so am I.

Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,

Or hurl the cynic’s ban?

Let me live in my house by the side of the road

And be a friend to man.


Sam Walter Foss

Drawing: Appletons’ Steuben House; source: Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, 1900; WikiCmns; Public Domain.


The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Purpose in Life

May 20, 2013 2 comments


cowabunga! look at what RT has turned up on Gilgamesh….

(reposted from Amy’s Place)


(and if you’re interested in RT’s version of tablets 1-4, stop by lulu and order a copy)

The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Purpose in Life.

Four Phases of Learning a Language

March 1, 2013 1 comment

File:China linguistic map.jpg


thoughtful advice from somebody in the middle of the process…RT

(reposted from kiroma)

Four Phases of Learning a Language.


Map: China Linguistic Map; CIA; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

Broken Boy

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment


wisdom from the trenches…read this!!   RT

(reposted from KelliKillion)


Broken Boy.

Cultured–What Makes an Artist an Artist

January 3, 2013 3 comments


More depends on the question of culture than is usually imagined. Rather like defining poetry, sorting out who is and is not a cultured individual leads to many answers and intense debate. Everyone wants to be cultured, but since a cultured individual performs no definite task and produces no recognizable product, people often assume that such people simply do not exist. The cultured person is one more fairy tale left over from an earlier and simpler era.

RT’s take on the issue is that some people are cultured. What distinguishes them from others? Here are some of their characteristics:

1) Cultured people are broadly educated. This means something other than being very intelligent or having acquired many academic degrees. The cultured person may not score exceptionally well on standardized tests and may be self-taught. He or she nonetheless has mastered a broad range of subject matter, most often in the humanities, but not necessarily. A hunger for understanding and an ability to grasp implications and the big picture seem to be essential.

2) Cultured people are pursued by certain questions. Like the novelist who is unable to shake off a need to bring his story’s characters to life, a cultured person is defined by certain interests; these interests invariably have social implications. Why do many people today dress with apparent disregard for their appearance? Why are particular races and ethnic groups slighted in the city where I live? Why do people where I live often eat poorly? Research can help answer some of these questions–may be essential to answering them, for that matter–but what lays at the heart of a cultured person’s response to them is the imagination.

3) Cultured people express the role of the imagination within a community. This is what distinguishes them from scholars and intellectuals. They are concerned with questions that affect everyone and that address the functioning of the community as a whole. In other words, they are concerned with culture, the things that tie people together: history, race, religion, language, the common settings of our collective lives. There can be no correct answer to the questions they struggle with, only happiness in the way we live. Not so much in the way a town or city is organized as in the way that people operate outside organizations–in the apparently minor details of address and appearance, of humor and delight in other’s company–these are the moments and places that cultured people enrich.

4) Cultured people have been saved by beauty. A cultured perspective is one aspect of the artist’s epiphany. We tend to look at the products of the artist–the  dance, the drawing, the poem–as their characteristic and best contributions, but it is not in the specific moments of beauty produced, but rather in the search for healing, for the details that give satisfaction and joy, that artists are most important to broader society.

5) Cultured people are essential to a community’s happiness. No job titles or salaries attach to the life of a cultured person. They in fact are often hidden–hidden from the search for safety and power. Nonetheless, cultured people deserve our respect and support. We must strive to find ways to integrate them into our live–they give success beauty and wealth meaning.



Photo: Georgian Door, Dublin. WikiCmns. Public Domain. Source: Thpohl.


An Inspiration: The Independent Scholar’s Handbook

March 28, 2012 3 comments


Some readers will recognize the symptoms: a sudden, inexplicable obsession with a topic, question, or creative work that drives a person to drop practical considerations and even essential obligations so he or she can spend time researching or writing in the library, interviewing people, tracking people down on the internet, making observations on their telescope, and so forth. Yes, there can be no doubt: you or someone in your life has been inspired to make a contribution to the advancement of knowledge or the creation of beauty. The person in question is an independent scholar.

Just what is an independent scholar? Someone who is working on an research project or work of art without support from an academic institution or other organization. In other words, this is where the rubber hits the road; people have been known to live on the street while they’re researching, writing, painting, sculpting, making a movie…

But, thanks to guides like Ronald Gross’s The Independent Scholar’s Handbook, the journey doesn’t have to be that hazardous. There are ways to organize your time and maximize your resources, grants that can defray your costs, volunteers who will support you because you’re doing important work, and support from other scholars, whether they be unknown like yourself or the most distinguished experts in your field. Patience, tact, and persistence can go a long way to easing the pain involved with any self-motivated act of learning and creation.

You might be wondering if a single book really can be the gateway to marshalling your resources and finishing your “inner assignment” (as Ansel Adams used to call his own creative work). And the Handbook does have one problem: it was last edition was published in 1993. Many of the specific suggestions it lists have disappeared or been reincarnated in internet and e-publishing guises. But then, come to think of it, cheap rent is still cheap rent.

External resources aren’t what’s at the heart of Gross’s book. What matters most is the way that he builds the independent scholar’s pride. Here is the sentence that opens Chapter 1:

This book is about taking risks of an unusual kind: risks in the realm of the mind.

His goal is to awake his readers to a sense of passion and purpose. Why? Because he realizes, that for most people, there is nothing of significance in their day-to-day existence. If we are to live fully, we must find the courage to do something really important.

So, in fact, a project that at first may seem impossible or just crazy turns out to have been the origin of many famous books: Barbara Tuckman’s A Distant Mirror, Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, and E.F. Schumaker’s Small is Beautiful are all works of independent scholarship. And look at what people like Buckminster Fuller, Betty Friedan, and John Snyder accomplished.

And then there are the many quotes from other authors on living the life of the mind:

Many workingmen are self-taught intellectuals.

Ignace Lepp, L’Art de Vivre de l’intellectual

And finally, to round the book out, Gross provides a wonderful bibliography, full of books devoted to the theory and practice of the independent scholar.

The Independent Scholar’s Handbook has changed a lot of people’s lives. Maybe it could change yours.        RT


Chinese Character: The Scholar. WikiCmns. CC 2.5 Generic. User: Magna. Magazine Cover: Hermes the Scholar, WikiCmns; Public Domain.


Poetry Tips from Brian Turner

March 12, 2012 2 comments

folks: great poetry advice from New Zealand….RT


Poetry Tips from Brian Turner.

Got Hunger? A Global Bill of Rights

December 12, 2011 2 comments

As Christmas approaches, I think it’s appropriate to spend a moment thinking about the poor and destitute, who constitute the vast majority of the planet’s population. Jesus required his followers to give up all their possessions before they joined his movement. In our current situation, a global bill of rights including the following item might help matters considerably:

“The right to eat nutritious food, to be adequately clothed and sheltered, and to receive necessary medical attention from a physician shall not be denied.”

Merry Christmas!!!     RT


Photo: WikiCmns; R. Zenz/USDA; Public Domain.