Monday, June 21, 2010


In June, the point of being a mammal (or a crustacean or even a bryophyte) is to be (happy). The happy is almost superfluous under the early summer sky.

Let others define the point (and they will) you will toil for what you know not. If spinning under the blue sky makes you happy, then spin, spin, spin!

This curious world which we inhabit is more wonderful than it is convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used. The order of things should be somewhat reversed; the seventh should be man's day of toil, wherein to earn his living by the sweat of his brow; and the other six his Sabbath of the affections and the soul, -- in which to range this widespread garden, and drink in the soft influences and sublime revelations of Nature.
Henry David Thoreau Harvard commencement speech 1837

I watched an ostracod under a microscope as it went about its business. Its movements were purposeful, and its pace picked up a bit after finding a morsel of food. Not sure it would grasp Thoreau's point, but not sure it wouldn't, either.

I said goodbye to two of my classes today. They know a little bit more about the vocabulary of biology, but even more important, they know they know less than they thought they knew back in September.

Most of my kids will be used by strangers in the next few years. Many of my lambs will pursue paths that can only lead to unhappiness (even if they make fabulous money).

None of that is any of my business, of course, but this much is--if I have given them even a glimpse of the teeming lives around, on, and in them, their worldview will be forever changed.

The Bloomfield Green holds more mystery than anything penned by humans. The universe is as much theirs as anyone's, more if they can see beyond the artificial constructs.

The word "teach" comes from the Old English tæcan, "to show, point out."

Anything beyond that is indoctrination.

The photo was cribbed from here, but it's all over the place.


Bill Farren said...

"they know they know less than they thought they knew back in September." A true sign of learning. It took me until college to figure out how little I know. And I'm still amazing myself.
I'm sure your students have been well served by your way of "pointing things out".
I really enjoy your writing. Thanks.

doyle said...

Dear Bill,

I don't have many readers, which is OK, I write mostly for myself, but I get a huge thrill when writers I respect poke their heads here.

Thanks for the warm words.