by the CFCC Teaching/Learning Institute.
Contact Person: Joe Zimmerman, Building 1,Room 103A
Ocala Campus, Extension 1782 or 1708
Energetic, purposeful, creative, Central
Florida Community College
promotes learning in an open, caring, inclusive environment which
individual and community development inspired by shared values of
integrity, service, responsibility and diginity
Reflections on the Meaning of Dignity
by Irvin Brown, Jr. Humanities & Social Science
The following speech was given by Dr. Brown at the 2005 PTK induction ceremony.
The speech was prefaced by congratulations to the inductees.
In my remarks on the meaning and significance of dignity, I would like to call attention to a broader concern. I am concerned about us taking the time needed, whenever possible, to think about what we are saying, so that we can say what we mean and mean what we say. This age-old maxim has lost much of its appeal in the modern world of commercialized language that is aimed more at persuasion than enlightenment. Many behave as if words are no more than tools for persuasion, the pushing of agendas, and the selling of products, rather than being tools for communication and human understanding. In the final analysis, the integrity of language use may have much to do with dignity. Certainly public life and private life are made less dignified by reducing language to an instrument for manipulation. So let us take the opportunity to look closely at a particular word, the word dignity, which is this year’s college theme.
I assume that all of you are familiar with the fact that the annual college-wide learning themes are based on the college’s four core values and that we have now reached the end of the list with the value, dignity. The past three years highlighted the values of integrity, service and responsibility. These core values were identified several years earlier by faculty focus groups that met to discuss the college’s mission. Our present vision statement and the college values embodied in that statement emerged from these meetings. The complete statement is as follows:
Energetic, purposeful, creative, Central Florida Community College promotes
learning in an open, caring, inclusive environment which encourages individual
and community development inspired by shared values of integrity, service, responsibility, and dignity.
The first observation I would like to make (perhaps as a psychologist) is that these positive values become virtues when embodied by individuals, just as negative values become vices when people embrace and act upon them. So what does it mean for us to become persons of integrity, true servants, responsible neighbors, and for our present purposes, what does it mean to have dignity? This is the dialogue I would bid the college to embark upon.
In my discussions with a few of my esteemed colleagues, I have found that they, like I, recognize that dignity is a value or human virtue of a different order than the ones previously treated. It is more difficult to define. We know that dignity has something to do with worth—knowing our worth and respecting the worth of others. Consider the definition provided by Webster’s Student Dictionary:
Dignity: 1) the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed. (I think most agree that we have a certain worth by virtue of being human. Some individuals can acquire or be granted more esteem than others, based ideally on their contributions to the common good). 2) high rank, office, or position of nobility or honor (as in dignitaries). 3) formal reserve of manner or language (which is true dignity only when it is not feigned).
From our original focus group discussions, I can recall that the word “dignity” was being used primarily in terms of promoting respect for the dignity of students. I would assume that this includes such things as making sure they receive their financial aid on time, and that students get their money’s worth in the classroom. Having good food in the cafeteria, as well as good career counseling, would seem to be important.
Consider what you might add. Temperate classrooms? Access for persons with
disabilities? Validation of diversity? Respecting each student’s intelligence?
Now, the point I want to make here is that in much of our public discourse dignity is negatively defined, in that we focus on situations in which there is a lack of dignity. We are sensitive to indignities toward others and we think in terms of not treating people with indignity. Consider that most of the debate about dignity in the larger society is focused on beginning of life and end of life decisions. We talk about death with dignity and respecting the dignity of the unborn. We do well to be concerned about vulnerable populations, the elderly and dying, the unborn and, closer to home, students. But when we are pressed to answer the question of what does it mean for me to conduct myself with dignity, we find this more challenging. Certainly respecting the dignity of others is a part of it. We behave in a dignified manner when we respect others. This, however, cannot be the whole of it. Dignity seems to have something to do with one’s total response to life. It can be reflected subtly in an attitude or even in an intent. Regarding a person’s behavior, or self-expression, dignity can be as subtle as one’s comportment, demeanor, or countenance. Even without a response or an expression, it seems that dignity can exist as a state of being, and be reflected in what some call “presence.” Please consider and reflect upon the following uses of the word dignity, some of which imply no particular action:
- She considered responding to their false accusations to be beneath her dignity.
- After losing the election he conducted himself in such a dignified manner that many wished they had voted for him. (Unfortunately, this is a fictitious example.)
- Jackie Kennedy conducted herself with unrivaled dignity in the aftermath of her husband’s assassination.
- It was said that Haile Selassie exuded the dignity of an emperor even when he put his shoulder to a stalled army vehicle.
- Hassan (of The Kite Runner) appears to be a model of dignity who quietly suffers the abuses wrought by the Afghan caste system. But at what point does silence in the face of abuse become undignified? Is there true dignity in the “unrequited loyalty” of a servant?
- In Beyond Freedom and Dignity, B. F. Skinner argued that human behavior is shaped entirely by one’s environment; therefore our character is not of our own making. The humanistic/existentialist psychologists disagreed and argued that our freedom to choose is the basis for human dignity (and the lack thereof).
- Is there any dignity in the conduct of the orphanage director (in The Kite Runner) who sells a few of his children in order to keep the facility open for the many others?
- And finally, a bit closer to home…It is difficult to participate in a “rat race” with dignity, because in the hustle and bustle it is so easy to forget about what life is really worth.
So, in conclusion after considering these and other examples, I would like to say this about dignity. Our dignity is reflected in the choices we make, but it is as much a state of being as it is an action. What is most unique about dignity is that it is an emergent virtue, rather than one that can be acquired directly. We are encouraged to cultivate integrity – to be honest and true to our word. Service is self-evident; it is about giving of ourselves to and for others. Responsibility is about accepting the consequences of one’s actions and even one’s inaction. Dignity, on the other hand, is what emerges when we cultivate these and other virtues, including patience, discretion, generosity, fair-mindedness, humility, courage, discipline and self-restraint. And let us not forget humor, especially the ability to laugh at ourselves. Dignity is the crowning achievement of character. It is that which blossoms from the cultivation of the other virtues. When we attempt to achieve dignity directly, the result is mere affectation. Dignity is godliness in the true sense of the term – that is, recognizing one’s priceless value, knowing and acting according to one’s true worth, yet esteeming oneself no more highly than others and all else that lies beyond self
THE CEREMONIAL MACE
by Jan Livingston, Health Occupations
At the May 2004 graduation, I had the privilege of carrying CFCC’s new Ceremonial Mace as I lead the faculty to their seats. The mace and I have made several journeys since. I am the longest serving faculty on our campus and that is how I came to have this distinction. The Mace was purchased from the Medallic Art Company LTD, Dayton, Nevada and was a gift to the college from the District Board of Trustees.
I became curious about the history of the mace and learned that the mace was first developed around 12,000 BC and quickly became an important weapon. These first wooden maces, studded with flint or obsidian became less popular due to the development of leather armor that could absorb the blows. Some maces had stone heads. The discovery of copper and bronze made the first genuine metal maces possible. One of the earliest images of a mace or club-like weapon is on the Narmer Palette. Maces were used extensively in the bronze age in the near east. The mace passed out of general use in the Iron Age, where swords, spears and axes became the dominant weapons. The ancient Romans did not use maces, probably because they had no need for a heavy, armor-smashing weapon. Armies of the Byzantine Empire used maces, especially from horseback.
During the European Middle Ages, metal armor and chain mail did much to blunt the blows of edged weapons and block arrows and other projectiles. Solid metal maces and war hammers proved able to inflict damage on well-armored knights. Maces, being simple to make, cheap and straightforward in application, were quite common weapons. Few of these simple maces survive today and are found in museums. Medieval bishops sometimes carried maces in battle instead of swords, to conform to the canonical rule, which forbade priests to shed blood. Maces could kill without drawing blood.
Maces were very common in Eastern Europe, especially medieval Poland and Russia. Eastern European maces often had pear shaped heads.
The cultures of pre-Columbian America used clubs and maces extensively. The warriors of the Inca Empire used maces with stone or copper heads and wooden shafts. The Aztecs used a type of wooden club with sharp obsidian blades on the side. Modern maces made a brief reappearance in the vicious trench warfare of World War I.
The mace as a real weapon went out of use with the disappearance of heavy armor. It gradually turned into the ceremonial mace, which was first a symbol of authority of military commanders. Ceremonial maces are still used to represent authority and prestige, as in the House of Commons in the Westminster system parliament and at educational institutions. Processions often feature such maces on formal college and university occasions. The ecclesiastical equivalent of the mace-bearer, the dodsman, appears in church contexts. Many modern ceremonial maces, such as those used by university chancellors, have been reduced from a fearsome weapon to a beautiful artifact like ours, which is pictured below.
Valencia’s Learning Conversations Conference
by Lori Kielty, Business & Technology
Valencia’s Learning Conversations Conference on 9/25-9/27 proved to be very beneficial for me and I would certainly attend another conference hosted by Valencia. I attended a session on getting students to “Start Right” that was particularly interesting. The “Start-Right” Strategies: Creating conditions for early student successes emphasized that the students’ first day of class was critical, so critical that if students missed the first day of class they were dropped. Furthermore, during the first week of class students were not allowed to register for a class that had already met. Many of the attendees felt these rules were harsh, but Valencia faculty and staff strongly believed it was the best thing for the students.
The two-day conference was designed with keynote speakers and multiple breakout sessions. Unfortunately, many of the breakout sessions I wanted to attend were at the same time, so I had to select carefully. It was extremely difficult to get the sessions I wanted on the second day of the conference because Valencia’s Professional Development Day was held at the conference. Attendance went from about 400 on the first day to about 1200 on the second day.
The conference would have been more valuable to me if I had attended with a colleague. That way, we could have split up and attended more breakout sessions.
Florida College English
by Chuck Gonzalez, Communications
The Florida College English Association conference in Daytona Beach on November 3-4 provided an opportunity to refresh skills, learn new material, and engage in a dialog with professional English instructors statewide. Each day’s agenda provided choices of presentations by faculty and staff which ranged from literary topics to composition and instructional pedagogy. Many of the presenters demonstrated superior ability in their field as they shared their research papers on various topics then opened the floor to questions and discussions. There were concurrent presentations all day, so it was very hard to attend everything that I wanted to. Each day was a stimulating experience, much like attending many graduate college classes on a wide variety of topics in a brief time. The ideas and strategies for teaching composition and literature that I gleaned will definitely aid my instruction. The conference whet my appetite to continue some avenues of study that I have previously started or that I wanted to explore for the first time. Of particular interest to me were the presentations on Ernest Hemingway, Stephen Crane, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Florida Gulf Coast University composition program and writing lab. The presenters were an impressive and supportive group. I certainly would like to attend annually, and hope to present a paper for this group some day as well.
Florida American Choral Director’s Association Conference
by Gregory Ruffer, Fine Arts
This is an important annual meeting (held November 3-4 in Lakeland) that brings together many of the choral directors from across the state. I had opportunities for meeting/conversations with directors from UCF, Seminole Community College, Brevard Community College, and many high school teachers. The clinician for the day, Richard Westenburg, was choral director at Juilliard and currently directs Musica Sacra. His sessions on diction and Baroque interpretation were especially good. It would have been nice to have a meeting of all community college directors; perhaps this will be something to consider for future meetings.
FNGLA Trade Show/Educational Training Seminar
Floyd McHenry, Workforce Education
This year’s Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA) was held in Orlando September 29-October 1, and was a huge success. In addition to observing the newest and best technology pertaining to Florida’s horticultural industry, I was blessed to have taken the all day “Train the Tainer” seminar where we were introduced to new and improved teaching methods. We also received needed text updates.
One general concept, which we already do to some degree at CFCC, was the demonstration/application method of learning. I learned that a great way to teach a student about soil type is to actually collect a sample of the soil in question with enough water to make a slurry, then agitate the mix at least 30 seconds, let the mix settle, then have the student measure (in centimeters) the amount of organic matter, fine and coarse textured soil, finally labeling the soil type according to the sample tested.
Another teaching method that I intend to employ is having the students individually research a subject within the course curriculum and apply that data to the same subject covered in the text. Finally, the student would present the information to the class.
Finally, I was able to establish a network with other instructors. We exchanged e-mails and were encouraged to share our teaching successes as well as our failures.
This annual seminar, director toward improving our teaching methods, is definitely worth our participation.
Thompson Delmar Learning: Milady Professional Development Training
by Toronda M. Grimsley, Personal Service
The Career Institute and Milady presented a Professional Development Training class in Jacksonville on October 2-3 for cosmetology teachers throughout the United States. In one of the classes I learned that as a teacher, I am responsible for educating students in a caring and nurturing environment so as to enable them to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and the ability to cope with both. During another class I realized that I needed to stay focused and committed to rules and policies and to make sure that my students do the same. I am also going to invent, adapt, and create new techniques and procedures to meet the changing demands of my students. I want to be in constant pursuit of knowledge and to become a subject matter expert. The more I know about what I am teaching, the more confidence I will have when teaching my students.
Fall Mini-Grants Awarded
by Sandy Pell, Professional Development Coordinator
The T/LI steering committee approved seven mini-grant applications at the October 24 meeting in the PDC. Another mini-grant, approved prior to the meeting, was to help fund a guest speaker, Tim Harrington, to speak on October 4 in recognition of Disability Employment Awareness month.
The remaining mini-grants approved are:
2nd annual Debra Vazquez Memorial Series guest speaker Ted Kooser, who will be at CFCC on 2/28/06.
“An Evening with Paul Rusesabagina” Scheduled to appear in February 2006 in conjunction with the CFCC Film Series’ showing of Hotel Rwanda in January. Rusesabagina was the assistant manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines in Rwanda, and used his influence to shelter over 1,200 Tutsis and moderate Hutus from slaughter during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
“Beautifying Industry, One Flower At A Time”- A combined project with the Automotive, Horticulture, and Welding departments, which will use the skills of the combined programs to beautify the industrial appearance of bldg. 15 by constructing four large pedestals and place large potted floral arrangements at each column in front of the shop area.
Lecture/recital on the state songs of Florida by Dr. David Kushner at the Webber Center on November 29, hosted by Sarah Satterfield of the Fine Arts department.
“Virtual Human” software and virtual reality glasses for the Anatomy and Physiology department, which will allow students and “inside” view in the human body.
Milady’s Standard Cosmetology student CD-ROM for the Personal Service department to replace outdated software for tutoring/testing cosmetology students.
Anatomical models for the Anatomy and Physiology lab to replace antiquated models that are falling apart from age and no longer accurate.
Congratulations to Ron Cooper; Sandra Cooper; Bonnie Vorwerk & Karla Wilson; Paul Rossiter, Bob DuMond, Tim Ingram and Mike Bannester; Sarah Satterfield; Drew Thompson; Delores Hunt; and Zinnia Callueng on their projects!
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Rumors abound that Maureen McFarland, the new Financial Aid Director, is going to bring in the barbarians from the Capital One commercial to help with Financial Aid…what’s in YOUR wallet???
CFCC’s Science Department announced a cure for most known diseases, which has been produced from a rare enzyme extracted from the scum on Lake Dassance…
As this hurricane season ends with an academic flurry of Greek Alphabet storms, my wife asked, “If there are hurricane hunters, why don’t they just shoot them when they find them?”
Overheard at a recent Marion County School faculty meeting…”Observe National Freedom Week—It’s the Law.”
Ad Astra (only one “s” I am told…) has taken the lead as the favorite CFCC cussword. And just yesterday it was “Jenzabar”—nostalgic to think back…
Is it true that Ad Astra (one “s”) scheduled some of the basketball games in the Board Room?
Building 5 must be getting close to completion…for the first time since the construction started, I can’t see completely THROUGH it.
People keep wanting to know what that extension to the Auditorium is. Why, it’s The Hartley Retirement Villa —was there ever any question? There’s an artificial beach being constructed on the top of it. Check it out when you are up there.
There are also rumors that several instructors have been trapped for days behind some of the teaching stations in the classrooms. For anyone changing a VCR tape in 4-104, we recommend the new CFCC TEACHING STATION SURVIVAL KIT; it includes several food bars, a miner’s helmet with light, and a free visit to our Physical Therapy folks to help untwist you after you come out alive.
There are stories galore about the new tower, which is supposed to be built on campus. We surmise that it will be similar to the Century Tower at UF, but shorter…since it will be the Half-Century Tower. Should be a lot easier on Rapunzel this time around.
My two favorite signs on SR200 over the last year. First the post-hurricane signs last year labeled DISASTER RELIEF…pointing to CFCC. Such ironies abound.
Then this year, there was the sign amidst the rubble of the Porter’s Store across from the college…STORE CLOSED. They really weren’t kidding. That is how they close down stores in Iraq.
And next year’s goal is to RAISE enrollment without raising cost. Isn’t that the slogan of Education in Florida?
Talk about early retirement…I walked by the payroll office today, and there was a sign saying “Temporarily Closed.” Now this is serious. What are college officials not telling us peons?
And, another sign of the end times…You can volunteer to work in Financial Aid in Building 5. (Read the display board in Building 1) Just call Sheryl Graham. Some poor guy was looking to do that, and tried to get information from me recently. He was standing outside the construction site that is Building 5.
One of my students told me she didn’t bother to distribute theatre posters in Building 1, because “nobody ever goes in there.” Out of the mouths of babes…
It’s 3:09 on a Wednesday afternoon. I have tried to call seven different people on campus in the last hour with no success. HELLO OUT THERE…ANYBODY HERE BUT ME ???
My Teaching Philosophy
by Kenneth Capps, Science
For many college students, chemistry is a dreaded course. The typical college student usually takes chemistry only as a requirement or a prerequisite. With this in mind, my main goal as a chemistry instructor is to help students discover exciting new ideas and to provide them with a rewarding experience as they develop an understanding and appreciation of the role of chemistry in their lives. Students learn not just in the classroom, but also in all aspects of life.
One of my main goals as an instructor is to convey a sense of chemistry not only as a field that has a lively history, but also as one that is highly dynamic with important new developments occurring every year. I like to include historical information in my lectures to make chemistry and chemists more alive and real to the students. Furthermore, I try to provide some insight into the chemical aspects of the world around us. One the first day of each class, I discuss the chemical aspects in fireworks, how an ice cube (pure water) floats in a glass of water (also pure water), and the launch of the space shuttle (just to name a few). I continue with other real world examples as the semester progresses--global warming, air quality, acid rain-- and I often use examples from television (such as CSI ) to illustrate ideas. Learning to think like a chemist is useful to everyone. Learning something of the chemical world is just as important as understanding basic mathematics and biology; and as important as having an appreciation for history, music, and literature.
I strongly believe that in chemistry the understanding of concepts and the ability to solve problems should be emphasized over memorization. Memorization cannot be totally eliminated, but it can be modified. Learning chemistry is similar to learning a new language; before you can speak or read, you must know some words. I am happier with a student who leaves my course knowing how to think critically, how to analyze a problem, how to derive an equation and use it, than a student who can memorize all the course content.. I like to show students that there is more than one way to approach a problem, for example algebraically or through dimensional analysis. Students need to be encouraged to try different ways of solving problems and to find their own style.
Ultimately, the goal of education is learning, not teaching. I believe that students should be stimulated to think on their own. I always try to answer a question with a question, to show the students how they can find answers by understanding underlying relationships. It is made clear on the first day of classes that students are always welcome (even expected!) to ask relevant questions (the only stupid question is the one that goes unasked). I also ask questions of the students to make them think, and help lead them towards understanding of the concept being taught.
Because people learn differently, it is important to supplement instruction with demonstrations and audio-visual aids. I welcome learners of all styles into the classroom through the use of different teaching styles and techniques in my classes ( e.g. , lecture, real-life applications, demonstrations, videos, discussion, worksheets, and group exercises). Modern computer programs and videos can provide excellent exploration tools and should be used whenever possible. At the same time, we should not fall into the trap of using technology for its own sake, or simply to “wow” the students. Sometimes the chalkboard is the best medium to explain a problem. I have developed my lecturing style to be mostly PowerPoint presentations, with occasional use of overheads and liberal use of chalkboard for worked example problems.
However, nothing can replace the motivation that comes from a personal contact with a teacher. Whatever their educational and cultural background, I always treat my students with respect and as responsible adults. When people are challenged, they usually rise to the occasion. I consider it an important part of my role to create a comfortable, supportive environment, to be available to students and to approach them as individuals. I believe that in the student-teacher relationship, what is good for the student comes first.
I have found these techniques and philosophies to be invaluable in my teaching so far, and while always being receptive to new ones, I foresee them to be of use throughout my career as an instructor.
I had the idea for this story this summer when I was in Spain and realized that this year is the 400th anniversary of the publication of Don Quijote. Upon my return, I decided to write something to celebrate the occasion.
O n the 400th anniversary of Don Quijote de La Mancha , about whom its author, Miguel de Cervantes, said, “There is a need for commentary in order to understand it,” there have been many authors who have dedicated their lives and work attempting to explain the many mysteries intertwining the work that would become the greatest masterpiece in Spanish literature. However, there is a Don Quijote about whom very few comment, and that is the “hidden” Don Quijote, the “inward” Don Quijote.
During the XVI and XVII centuries “inward” thought was quite prevalent among learned men and women, and it was part of the believes and values of the time as well as of the mental and spiritual universe. In many cases this thought went beyond mysticism and it became the tangible reality of God through “inward” practices. These practices were not within reach of the common man but were attained through dedication and study by which spiritualism developed, capable of assimilating the subtlest realities. This transfer of knowledge took place through mythology, which enabled the “learned ones” to cautiously discuss the “inward” mysteries of religion without eliciting the ire of the Inquisition.
There were many “inward” authors: Eugene Canseliet, Victor-Emile Michelet or Eugenio Philaleteo. In addition, the “inward” contemporaries Emmanuel d’Hooghvorst, Dominique Aubier and Ruth Reichelberg who believe that there is a “hidden” language in Don Quijote preserved to this day by its diverse forms. The knight knows and the common man does not. Although Don Quijote points out that the common man is not just the lower class, “Everyone who doesn’t know, be it Lord or Prince, can and should be part of the common man.”
The novels of chivalry began to appear in Europe during the Middle Ages but it is not until the XIV century that they enter Spain. Amadis de Gaula, Tirant lo Blanc and the History of the Knight of God are three of the great works published in Spain. All of them have the same goal: to elevate the warlike mission of the knight to a divine level. The tribulations experienced by the protagonists of these adventures are representations of the obstacles experienced by human beings in order to attain their most important objective in life which is the mystical union with God, the final triumph of the knight. Chivalry, in this manner, can not be a theory but a practical, experimental and not speculative science. The errand knight Don Quijote says it several times: “Those who profess to be knights of chivalry see great and unbelievable things because this art and exercise exceed everything that men invented.” In another excerpt, our hero remarks that religious people “ask heaven for the wellbeing of earth,” (they are, therefore, speculative) while “soldiers and knights put into practice what they request.” This is a fundamental point from the “inward” point of view. He, who does not know the whole mystery, only knows God in spirit, but not in spirit and body. The knight experiences through valor and strength the Will of God and is inspired by Him.
LOOK BEYOND REALITY
The “enchantments” mentioned by Don Quijote, provoked by his “enemies” who are determined to interrupt the knight’s mission, reflect the “hidden” meaning that, because of its appearance, the profane cannot see…it is the veil of Isis. When Dulcinea appears to Sancho as a vulgar, smelly country girl of ill manners, Don Quijote reaffirms that she has been made to look that way by his “witchcraft enemies” in order to dishonor her.
The castles, inns and its inhabitants are all bewitched; the whole world and humanity have fallen under the spell of the “Prince of this world,” the great enchanter. Enchantment is a word used often in Don Quijote. It derives from the Latin “incanto” which, since the XIII century, denotes the meaning of “bewitching”; the prefix in and canto form it. In other words, without song, without sound, mute, without voice. The mission of the science of chivalry is to disenchant and restore humanity, returning to creation its pristine purity. It is the science that disenchants the world and, upon awakening the enchanted life that lives within all of us, illuminates reality. This is possible thanks to the “art and exercise” of chivalry whose science “includes most, if not all, sciences of the world,” according to Don Quijote.
LOVER AND PROPHET
The character of the loved woman (Dulcinea) in Don Quijote is a most important character in the novels of chivalry. Knights’ goal in love is the love of their “Lady”, and not mundane love. Therefore, knights in love, according to Don Quijote, should be “wise, alone, solicitous, and secretive.”
Another fundamental aspect of the profession of knight is having the virtue of the prophet. Don Quijote has this in common with others of his kind—the world considers him crazy because he preaches the incredible and claims to speak the truth. As Plato said, “The greatest rewards come to us from crazy actions which no doubt is granted to us by a divine power… Craziness that comes from a divine power is more beautiful than the commonsense which originates from man.”
SANCHO, THE CARNAL CHARACTER
In the case of the good squire Sancho Panza, he does not ride a horse like his master but a donkey, more appropriate of his social class. It can be said that Sancho has not been created yet, he still does not count for the future life. That is why he sleeps while his master remains vigil: “Sleep for you were born to do it,” admonishes Quijote. “The servant sleeps, and the master is in vigil, thinking how to support him and better his life. The sadness to see the sky turning gray without the rain falling on the ground does not worry the servant but it does worry the master,” says Quijote. Watching the heavy sleep of the servant, it is up to the knight to stay vigil to carry out all the battles. Therefore, his sleep is to “always remain vigil.”
The squire is cognizant of the state in which those who, like him, sleep in this world, and says: “There is only one bad thing about being asleep, from what I have heard, basically there is very little difference between someone asleep and dead.” His master attempts to rectify the situation: “Wake up you who sleep.” However, he is not very successful. Don Quijote is the errand knight, and he calls Sancho the “bad squire.” He is an errand knight because he has lost his memory; he no longer remembers who he is or which is his true country.
THE PARADIGM OF BAD AND EVIL
There are two parts in a human being: the spiritual and the carnal. Sancho represents the paradigm of everything bad as well as all that is good. Don Quijote and Sancho come from the same place and they will always go together. They are, in fact, the two parts that form a human being. Although only the spiritual man participates in the Golden Age, there is something in Sancho that, although is “hidden,” will form part of the future world, and that justifies that every knight must have a squire.
At the end of the novel, Cervantes speaks through Dulcinea del Toboso: “Don Quijote was born for me alone and I for him; he knew how to act and I to write; the two of us are one and the same.” Cervantes will be reunited with Dulcinea; the inspirational Muse of his work, the circle has closed. It will no longer be separated what God brought together at the beginning. Dostoieski said of Don Quijote de La Mancha that it was “the saddest book of them all.”
There have been authors who had other opinions about Don Quijote from a precursor of the liberal revolution to an anti-Semitic defender of the purity of blood and the Inquisition. Some have written that it is the work of a free thinker, and some masons have wanted to see in the character the spirit of masonry. Among so many opinions about this literary jewel, one stands out from the philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset. The Spanish philosopher wrote that “we should not judge works of art but love them” and that Cervantes still waits for “the grandson who will be able to understand him.”
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The first time I “met” Sandra Cooper was a couple of years ago in the Learning Resources Center. I was thumbing through the 2003 edition of CFCC’s treasure of a literary magazine, Imprints, and came upon her poem, “Disintegration of Memory.” Not sure why my browsing fixated on this one particular work, I read the poem a few times, marveling at the compact message before me: a perhaps autobiographical look at a mother and sisters and Alzheimer’s. Poets have a way of doing that: forging connections between vivid words that make us stop and think and ponder what we may have not thought about before.
A year later when I met Sandra Cooper in person as she moved into her current CFCC digs upstairs in the wooden cubicle farm in Building 2, I welcomed her to the multi-functional, if not multicultural community, who works here. Amidst an ever-changing stream of Equal Opportunity Center counselors, biologists, physicists, career educators, and now the latest move-in, the college auditors, I mentioned how I had been moved by her poem and began to learn more about her life.
We have been friends now for almost two years. To say that we became fast friends is an understatement and bespeaks the apparent pace which this casual Sandra brings to all aspects of her life. I am sure that I am not alone in experiencing this Sandra trait of bringing people into her life, of treasuring, even nurturing, the little and big things in her friends’ lives, ever ready with a smile, a nod, an opinion, and at times, an unsolicited rebuke. She is smart but not pedantic, compassionately present and courageously direct. She is unrelenting in her moral stands toward the rights of the underrepresented or the abused. She wonders aloud about how many of her students have experienced abuse or been ignored. Indeed, her classroom and her love of letters have become mirrors for her students’ lives, a safe place where their thoughts and representations, in voice and in pen, can be considered but not dismissed, explored but not co-opted.
If you come to her ever-open office door, you will probably find her behind her desk, reading a short story for the American Literature class she is teaching; redlining another student essay (as writing teachers seem to always be doing); or fishing for transparencies for the Technical Communications course she has taught for almost ten years, a course seasoned with the experience she gained as a technical writer for a St. Petersburg, Florida defense contractor prior to the Cooper family’s arrival at CFCC in 1993; or working on any number of myriad details related to a meeting, event, planning session, lecture, read-in, or shout-out for something Sandra has become involved in.
Consider the impact she has had on academic and student life at CFCC during her past two years as a full time instructor:
The African-American Read In, a one hour session held during a CFCC activity hour in conjunction with Black History month in February, has attracted more than 100 attendees in the form of students, faculty, administrators and community leaders who have selected a poem, letter, image or memory to share with the thirsty throng before them. For those who have attended this annual event put together by Sandra, these sessions border on what ever version of the spiritual one holds dear.
The Women’s Institute Project, a program honored by the Teaching Learning Institute as the Constellation Award winner for the 2004-2005 academic year, emerged from Sandra’s vision (along with her talented friends Sheila Evans, Amy Mangan, Diane Fowlkes, Bonnie Vorwerk, and Judy Davis) and brought to campus the likes of the celebrated feminist, bell hooks, and Dr. Uma Narayan, an expert on third world feminist scholarship.
Sandra became the point person for this project, conceiving, writing, implementing and nurturing both the broad strokes and the smallest of details. Each event was marked with overflow attendance, passionate audience response and the type of intellectual discourse essential for the contemporary community college to maintain its currency in an increasingly diverse world. I can recall sitting next to Sandra at the grant workshop given by the Florida Humanities’ Council which planted the seed for the project. It was clear to me then that she had mastered the art of obtaining buy-in from those who are hesitant, while always deflecting the credit to those who are around to help. In the end, it was Sandra who had put the Women’s Institute together.
The Learning Theme committee stands as a third example of how powerful consensus building can be in shaping community college discourse. Now, for the second year running, she has provided the on-point leadership for the college wide activity. In addition to providing the continuity (in the form of meeting reminders, concise minutes, and summary reports) to keep an easily distractible committee from spinning its wheels, she organized a bus trip (along with Lindsey Gubin in Student Leadership) to Gainesville to see a dramatic production of one of last year’s common texts, Nickel and Dimed. For every event organized by the group, she makes herself available to the individual in charge, by providing tips for publicity, through budgetary assistance where required, and most important, by showing up for the event itself.
No idea is unworthy of discussing, or connection too trivial to consider. The buy-in she has achieved is weighty: from the president to staff services, and from the artistes in communications and humanities to the auto mechanics and welders in occupational education, the Learning Theme’s impact on college life continues to vitally expand the overall college discourse. In my view, this is due to Sandra’s ability to invite all comers and to provide standing to any and all input.
Sandra would say that she is merely carrying on the legacy of Debra Vazquez, the CFCC faculty member who was physically taken from us prior to the 2004-05 school year and who served as the first chairperson of the Learning Theme committee, but that, in fact, is typical of the casual Sandra, deflecting credit while at the same time enjoying the process and the events that the committee has produced.
When you are with Sandra, you must expect this statement more often than not: “Not to change the subject, but...” Her mind races from politics to gender, from childcare to southern writers, from scraping off old wallpaper on the new house the Coopers have recently moved into, to grieving for the Gilgamesh-like epic unfolding in New Orleans. She is as apt to cry as to laugh, to stare with the most focused of eyes or to steal a glance at the latest distraction to attract her senses, with emotion that is palpable but with thoughts that are profound and meaningful.
As she stakes out new territory in her American Literature course, savors the newest edition of the African-American Read In, or marshals the expanding activities of the Learning Theme committee, I know that each seminal moment represents another potential lyric for this closet poet, whose admixture of intellectual heft and of southern seasoning has provided CFCC with this not so ordinary, yet eminently casual, Sandra Cooper.
A Quick Conversation with Thanease Roberts
by Joe Zimmerman, T/LI Coordinator
Hello Thanease. You are a new full time faculty member in the Math department but you were an adjunct at CFCC before that. Can you tell us some of the differences you feel moving from an adjunct faculty position to full time faculty?
A few differences I feel moving from adjunct to full time faculty is gaining more knowledge about things that I did not know as an adjunct and learning more about the many services the college has to offer both instructors and students.
You teach a lot of prep courses. What is your biggest challenge in these prep classes?
My biggest challenge in these prep courses is building strong confidence in the students.
That can’t be easy .
It isn’t. Because a lot of them start out in prep courses, they feel discouraged about what they can accomplish. I encourage them that great things are possible if you believe in yourself and strive to do the best that you can and give 110% in all that you do.
How do you convince students that what you teach is relevant to their everyday lives?
To show students the relevance of math in their everyday we use word problems. I have them create problems that they would use in everyday situations on the job or even at home. We apply the concepts that are taught to show them the usefulness of math. Most are amazed how math is a part of their everyday lives.
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100 Years of Learning Celebrated on October 4 College Planning Day
On College Planning Day In October we asked five of our more experienced faculty members to give us their thoughts about students, teaching and the future of the college.
Thanks again to our distinguished panel: David Hartley, Jan Livingston, Rhonda Rawls, John Simpson and Elvira Surmons (who offered the following “Surmonisms”: “ Reading is Thinking” and “ Reading is seeing relationships/connections among ideas”).
Rave reviews came in on the evaluation forms for our panel: “Perfect mix with lots of experience,” “It was nice to hear from the old guys,” “Interesting variety of ideas sincerely discussed,” “Good understanding of college issues,” as well as “Ideas based in reality and thought provoking issues” and “Good blend of humor and advice.”
by Joe Zimmerman, T/LI Coordinator
Preparing for our faculty colloquium a few months ago, I wanted to be able to quote what students thought about our newest Star, John Simpson. But, the students weren’t on campus yet and I didn’t think breaking into his office to peek at his instructor evaluations was an ethical thing to do. So I visited the website ratemyprofessors.com to find the information I wanted .
As a college educator, you are going to either love or hate this website. But it is growing increasingly popular, so you should probably take a peak. At this site, students nationwide evaluate their college professors; it’s “Where the Students do the Grading” as the tagline says.
Students rate their professors on a scale from 1 to 5 on “Helpfulness” and “Clarity” and “Ease.” The chart then comes up with an “Overall Rating” for the individual instructor. There is also a “Rater Interest” category that helps make this site a bit more legitimate. A rating from a student who had little interest in taking the course means something different than a rating of a student who was highly interested in the subject. And since this site is for students, there is, “just for fun,” an optional “Appearance Rating.” Interestingly, this category is not on a scale. The student clicks “Hot” or “Not.”
Let’s look at the downside. Remember that student you failed last term (the one who was only 8 points away from a D) who blames you for losing her scholarship? Depend on that student to rant her revenge on this site. And no matter how unfair, biased or mean spirited an evaluation may be, that information is posted for all to see. The site is monitored, however, so the language of the comments excludes profanity. Another downside is simply that to post a rating one doesn’t have to even prove they ever took a course from that professor. So there are surely phony evaluations on the site.
However, I think students can get a very general idea of what to expect from a teacher if they look at the information posted on this website. And I like to think that many of the students using this site are honest about how they rate their instructors and what they write about them. Of course, there is nothing scientific about the survey, and we have to hope that the students who read this information realize that they are reading the opinions of a tiny fraction of students who took the professor. We have to hope that the professors who look at this site realize this as well.
The most amusing part of the site is the top 20 “Funniest Ratings.” These include “If I was tested on her family, I would have gotten an A.” “You can’t cheat in her class because no one knows the answers.” And “Not only is the book a better teacher, it also has a better personality.”
The site is free. But subscribers get to email the other subscribers for more information. Registered users also gets to view beyond the first 10 posted evaluations, though few professors have that many.
I think the site is fun and relatively harmless. Feedback from students about their learning, even if unscientific, can be useful to instructors, although I doubt I will change my teaching strategies because of what students say about me on this site. Of course my views are tempered not only by the fact that I have generally positive ratings, but also by the fact that I teach online every semester. In fact, I first learned about this site on a student discussion board for one of my courses. Internet communication continues to fascinate me.
Check out ratemyprofessors.com. Colleagues I have talked to about it gave mixed reviews. (Adam Hayashi calls the site “graffiti.”) In the next issue of Directions , we’ll print your opinions. A short paragraph or even a few sentences will do. Send your comments to me at email@example.com.
Book Club meeting dates for next semester in 1-101 from 12:00-1:00:
January 27 – Who is Jesus? By John Dominic Crossan and Richard Watts.
Facilitated by Ron Cooper
February 24–Delights and Shadows by Ted Kooser. Facilitated by Dennis Owen.
Bring your favorite poem as well.
March 17 – Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady by Florence King.
Facilitated by Susan Bradshaw
April 21 – Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Facilitated by Amy Mangan
For more information, call Amy Mangan at ext. 1397
We’re Looking for Writers!
As you know, Directions is a journal written by and for our full and part-time faculty members, and we are always looking for new contributors and ideas. Have you endured the agony of creating a portfolio? Discovered new software? Been on a trip to an exotic land? We want to hear about it!
If you are interested in writing an article, please contact Joe Zimmerman at ext. 1782 or Sandy Pell at ext. 1708. Also, if you’d like to be a speaker at one of our monthly Lunch Bunches, let Sandy know—she’ll track you down and “volunteer” you eventually, so give her a call!