Hello. Greetings class! Welcome to my section of CGCL VII, where we will be reading and discussing Franklin Carter’s induction speech. Or so is my hope.

Let me start out by saying I’m going to do things a little differently here, than in the other instructors’ sections. I have only two primary goals here– for us to read and understand the text on its terms, as much as we can, and for us to engage in discussion of the text to that end.

Thus primary purpose of this note– go read the text assigned for tomorrow. Before anything, read the text!

You can find it by clicking on the link HERE.

My following remarks are largely procedural,   but you will want to read the underlined parts at least.

There will be no lectures.

First, you don’t have to take my seminar. You don’t have to like my seminar. If you’re not interested, the door is over there. This is a required course in the EphFlog curriculum, but I hearby guarantee anyone who’s not interested, or not up to exploring the materials seriously, a C — minus– for not showing up.

This will not be a walk in the park. I hear another adjunct instructor is presenting Stats for Finance this Winter Study as a remake of the Bataan Death March, and this will not be nearly that painful, but our goal here is to talk about the text and learn something about it, not to discuss last night’s Family Man episode or stare at the navels of our own preformed opinions.

That is to say,  to get anywhere here,  you do have to read the material closely and engage with it.   I’m simply here,  to suggest some ways of doing that. And a question or two.

If you’re not up for that, the door is over there. I have stationed a TA there with a jelly donut and five coupons for free gelatos in the Snack Bar, as a reward for anyone who will make our journey easier by simply not showing up.


Ah, good. That clears things up a bit.

Next, for those of you who have made the questionable decision to stick around– I might recommend an afternoon snowshoeing with Mr. Stevenson, instead– first, again, read the text. It’s your first aid, in understanding what the text means.

Otherwise, here’s how I intent to proceed.

I abhor the professor-pontificate version of the classroom– you know, the one where the professor sits at the front, and row after row of students, is arranged looking at them, as if they were the only person around with anything to say. We’ve improved this a little in recent years, with semi-circles and arcs which allow you to see your fellow students, and perhaps talk to them now and then– and by removing the iron chains and shackles and allowing you to leave if you dare– but it’s still the professor, pontificate, the leader is all-important, talking-head model.

President Falk is a very interesting man, after all, but nothing strikes me as more of a wasted opportunity, and less participatory and more of an affront to democracy, than to gather 150 or so Williams alums in New York or such, 150 or so of the best and most interesting minds in the region, and have Mr. Falk speak for 90-odd minutes at a general level, and then everyone scurries off after five or ten minutes of disorganized conversation, to which there will be no significant follow-up.

I say we’d do quite better, to split them up into smaller groups, hand them a CD with the bulk of Falk’s presentation, and have them discuss with one another, some of the dynamics and issues facing the College, with College personnel passing through and providing concrete details, as they get to know each other and each others’ ideas. That would be so much better, that the current way of doing things seems to me utterly stupid.

We’re a purely virtual seminar, so operating according to the limitations of a physical meeting seems rather silly to me as well. “Will begin in the morning.” Pontificate; questions from the audience. I cannot express to you, how frustrating I find the generic panel discussion format, with a bunch of talking heads randomly spouting their supposed brilliance, when the real point is what the audience takes away and does with the discussion– the understanding created in the audience.

So where I’m going to start, is with some questions for the audience. I do promise any brilliance. “Are you ready?”  A first set or reading will be posted later tonight; a second set, should be up sometime tomorrow.

Complaints? Please remember that I am not a tenure candidate, nor beholden to opinion of the Deans or other Faculty, or in fact, getting paid for this seminar. This leaves me with a great deal of independence you may not encounter in your other courses.

After than– again, we have the flexibility of meeting in virtual time. I don’t expect anyone to be here at 10AM on Monday– in fact, we’re not all in the same time zone, so I don’t quite know what 10AM on Monday will mean for all of you, and I might very well be on a flight to New South Wales at the time. But my expectation is that, by the end of Monday, most of you will have taken a look at the text and some of the discussion questions, and formulated some idea of what you think Mr. Carter is talking about.

If not– no skin off my back. There are more jelly donuts available in the snack bar,  though you’ll need to purchase those on your dime. Maybe the consumption of jelly donuts, is more pleasing than the reading of Mr. Carter’s words?

I will start you off with a question thought– why is the method I’m following here, perhaps more appropriate to approaching Mr. Carter’s notion of what a Williams education doesin specific? (Much less than any of our instructors who have a specific programmatic agenda to push in their interpretation– sorry, I’d better keep my mouth shut there, before I get fired, or carted off to a basement in Cambridge for reprogramming.)

By the end of Monday, I’ll drop in and take stock of what’s happened. I’ll also pass through from time to time.  Perhaps some of you will have posted some of your own questions, or comments– perhaps you can find a way discuss with each other, in this rather odd and hackneyed online forum.

If appropriate– I’ll also throw you some idea or half-baked interpretation of mine, a sort of mini-lecture, which you can read at your leisure. Rather than getting anything right, probably the best I can hope to do, is to present some perspective or larger question, problematic or issue, which will illuminate Carter’s speech and the issues at play in it. Such as: why he’s mentioning the German university system, or just why he’s calling for a sort of co-operation, between the liberal arts colleges?

We have until– the rather arbitrary schedule Deans Kane and Swart have provided me, tells me that your next section with Prof. Spero begins on the morning of the 12th. “Promptly,” no doubt. Well. I’m not sure that well do, for task before us. But I hope to have gotten us a little bit into the issues of the text, by then–

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