55 - Optional Interview with William Craig Riceدوره: Coursera – Learning How to Learn / درس 55
55 - Optional Interview with William Craig Rice
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William Craig Rice is the Director
of the Division of Education Programs
at the National Endowment for the
Humanities, which sponsors seminars for
college and school teachers on subjects
as diverse as Shakespeare’s plays,
Mayan civilization and
the Civil Rights Movement.
Bill’s remarks today don’t represent
the views of the National Endowment for
the Humanities, but are simply his
as a teacher, writer and scholar.
Bill previously served as the 12th
president of Shimer College,
the Great Books college of Chicago and
he taught writing seminars for
many years at Harvard University.
He’s the author of public discourse and
academic inquiry and
of essays and
verse in cultural periodicals.
He was recently given a life
time achievement award for
contributions to the humanities
by Utah Valley University.
It’s a pleasure to speak
here today with Bill Rice.
Bill, I’ve seen you in action,
reading difficult material.
Adam Smith’s Rhetorical Discourses.
You seem to be able to synthesize and
chunk the essential ideas in difficult
reading material like that very easily.
Do you have any suggestions for
us mere mortals about how we can
do something a little similar.
I don’t know that I’m any better
at this than another reader would be,
because what I start
with is just noticing.
I was taught this a long time ago that
you don’t need to be ready to analyze or
make an argument or otherwise elaborate.
Just read and
when you notice something, mark it.
Just noticing is a neutral act,
it’s giving your own mind credit for
That’s really important and I mark with
a little vertical sign on the margin.
Other people could use other methods,
but I think that’s the starting point.
Once you do that, you may notice that
you’re noticing the same thing over and
In which case, I call it a pattern an
original idea, but you look for patterns.
And that’s related to the idea of chunks,
except that I guess
chunks can also be sections of,
of argument that you begin to detect.
I find too is something that’s potentially
really dry, like rhetoric and written.
Basically, what we were reading was
lecture notes taken by someone else of
a man who’s mainly famous for
namely inventing the modern science of
economy, but also as a philosopher.
So, I found that the best thing to do
was to notice and watch for patterns.
Well, probably early on here,
we should define what do we really mean.
What, what are the humanities?
Don’t people get confused about this?
Well, they do.
People think it means humanitarian
as in humanitarian aid.
They think it means humanity
as in some great cause for
saving the world from ourselves.
And actually, the humanities
are a number of academic disciplines.
Philosophy, the study of religion,
literature, history, art history.
To some extent,
anthropology when it’s most
concerned with should we say,
the human nature.
Those are the fields and there,
there are others that creep in,
classics certainly, archeology.
They’re actually called the humanities,
because what happened was when
the fields were being divided,
you had the natural sciences,
like physics and astronomy and chemistry.
And then you had the social sciences,
the hard kind of social sciences,
like psychology, sociology.
And when they were done with those that,
everything that was left
was called the humanities.
So, it was a process of elimination and
they got left on the table.
They’re, it, that’s the definition, but
it’s strange, because people don’t get it.
Similarly, people often don’t
understand the term liberal arts.
They are, some people,
I remember one fellow saying to me.
Well, what about conservative arts?
And, you know, with liberal education,
what about conservative education?
You get, people understand the basic,
ter, misunderstand the basic terms.
Perhaps, because thy
haven’t been taught them.
It’s not deliberate.
But we’re saddled with terms
that are unfortunate in a way,
because people don’t understand them.
Well, good approaches to learning,
often involve transfer from one field,
for example, mathematics to another field,
like music or language.
But each field has its
own special challenges.
Are there approaches that you reco,
would recommend that are applicable,
particularly applicable for
One broad point is that in chemistry.
Although in the theoretical realm,
there are lots of ambiguities and
uncertainties among those who
are doing pioneering work.
For the, for a large part, for those
of us who are studying at a relatively
introductory or intermediate level
there are answers to be arrived at
through methods that are,
will help illuminate how a field works.
This will be true in chemistry or
There are measurements to be taken.
There are all kinds of re,
repeatable exercises that
determine what knowledge is.
And this isn’t, I don’t mean to
over simplify the sciences, but
that’s broadly true and
it’s not broadly true in the humanities,
which are are concerned with
questions more than with answers.
You have to be interested and
tolerant of at least ambiguity
the idea that a question
remains unsolved for
pretty much the entirety of human history
or at least of recent human history.
So, it’s important to understand
that controversies aren’t settled in
They’re more likely simply
to be raised and explored.
That’s the, those are the broad brush
the broad brush need you have in the,
in humanities when you’re approaching
it particularly at the beginning.
That you’re not striving for a
direct, complete, final answer.
This is hard for students who have been
trained to take exams and get, you know,
get to the right answers by whatever,
by whatever means they can.
Instead in the humanities, what you
admire in in the work of someone who’s
just figuring things out, it’s a kind
of openness to contrary evidence.
That seems to me broadly, the way to go.
As to the specific fields there
are lots of sub-que, sub,
sub-questions or, or
second order problems to explore.
But broadly speaking in the humanities,
it’s about tolerance of ambiguity.
And at a certain point, a real love
of ambiguity, which can of course,
become quite frustrating for people.
[LAUGH] Because you never feel like
you’re getting an answer from this guy at
the front of the class or wherever.
That I think that’s so true and it’s such
a different way of looking at things
than we, for example, in engineering and
how we look at things.
But I think actually, both approaches
can be so interesting and useful.
And I think for, for engineers and
for those in humanities,
sort of getting an understanding and
a tolerance of both of our
perspectives is probably worth while.
Students in the humanities, sometimes
complain that they’re expected to make
they don’t have anything to say.
So, it’s not that they don’t care,
they do the reading.
They actually participate
in all the discussions.
They wanna be involved, it’s just they
can’t come up with a position to defend.
So what advice would you
give in this circumstance?
Well, [LAUGH] I was in that
position myself for many years.
I thought it was borderline preposterous
to call on me to have anything to say or
to ask me to write a, an eight or
ten or twelve or twenty page papers
when I really hadn’t read enough to
have anything legitimate to say.
I was I found this to be one of
the problems in classroom education and
perhaps one of the ways in which
online education could begin
to untangle a problem of the,
the given time in a semester.
So I remember, again and again, feeling
like the best thing I could do would be
was to read and to take notes, which I
think is absolutely essential, by the way.
If you, you have to read and
be content with being alone.
We talk a lot about group work,
but a lot of it’s solo.
Reading and taking notes.
In any case, back to the question.
I found that I was in again and
again faced with a problem
of finding something to say.
So what I, the advice I give is ask for,
if you don’t find,
of the thing you’re studying.
It might be two scholars who disagree
on what Machiavelli meant when he said,
the prince should be more concerned about
being feared than about being loved.
People different, differ on that and
If you can, if you don’t find that in
the materials that you’re assigned
as it were seek them out.
What are the, what are the flash points?
Where are the major points of contention?
And instead of thinking, well,
I agree with this side or the other side,
instead say gee.
How is this argument a stronger
argument than another?
Not whether it’s right or not,
but whether it’s stronger.
It’s who has the better evidence.
Who is pointing to evidence
that is harder to understand?
Who’s taking on the more
That’s the first thing that I
would recommend is, is looking for
Another is to look at,
particularly when you’re studying
what we call a primary source.
I would cite
Mary Wollstonecraft’s work on,
on the in the late 18th century
on the education of women or
Thomas Jefferson’s statute for
religious freedom in Virginia.
you feel a real rhetorical power.
These people are making an argument.
What are they arguing against?
It’s not often clear in the given
text what the argument is.
Who, who, who and what they’re aiming at?
And if you can read carefully, sometimes
you can make a, what we ca, inference.
Because Jefferson is so
concerned about the government giving
special treatment to members
of the Anglican Church.
What we, well, why was that an issue?
It prompts one to want to know more.
So, if you have the rhetorical
flashpoints in view,
you can then ask questions
of an objective nature.
What was it that got Wollstonecraft or
Jefferson or anyone else worked up?
What was it that got
Machiavelli worked up?
Those are, those are what questions and
they send you back into
So those are some of the ways I
would approach the problem of having
nothing to say.
But in the end, I wish we had a system
of education that was described
to me by young woman I knew who had gone
to an English University, Cambridge.
And she, I said, how did you get to be so
knowledgeable and such a good writer?
And so careful in your, in your thinking.
As you said, well, all the way through
four years as an undergraduate,
I was told I had to write summaries.
Summary, given an article,
write a summary.
One page, one page, one page.
Pracies, they called them over there.
That was hugely helpful to her.
She wasn’t asked to come up with something
of her own to say, she was asked
to explain what other people had said and
that was a real revelation to me.
And then from then on, when I was in
the classroom I would assign summaries.
Because It wasn’t,
it was something you could do differently,
not all summaries had to be the same, but
you would learn the material that way
without having to be invested in
whether you had an argument to make.
Understanding other’s thinking actually
can open up one’s own thinking and
my Dr. Vater Richard Marius
the director of writing at Harvard
used to say, encourage your students
not so much to be in, you know,
original thinkers, but to find their
thinking in the thinking of others.
That’s what, really what scholarship and
learning and humanity is, is about.
It’s about standing on the shoulders
of others in order to understand,
perhaps a little bit better.
I know that when I’m doing writing,
I think of writing as something I do to
help me better understand my own thoughts.
when I’m beginning to write something,
I’m looking at the thoughts of others.
But it’s, it’s what I start trying to
struggle with putting words in the paper
myself that I start to
understand my own words.
But then observation of the woman that
you knew about writing summaries,
that’s such an exquisite
approach to learning.
Because it, it helps neurally
in code in a small chunk.
What the main ideas are and
that actually does really help you to
better understand your own thoughts.
And another thing I just
have to bring up is that I,
I very much admire your,
your thought in relation to it,
it is important to work alone sometimes.
And we do have this enormous emphasis.
I mean, there’s,
there are trends in education, in fads-
So forth and they go in and out.
One of the current fads is
to do a lot of group work.
and I, I emphasize that myself and
I think there’s value in it.
But also too much group work and
you start to think like other people,
And part of what I
think we value in western society,
in modern society is this idea to think
more independently as well as to
understand the opinions of others.
So, anyway, with that,
what hinders students most from
learning in the humanities?
Well, you know,
I think it gets back to this problem
of being comfortable with ambiguity.
A feeling that there is some way
of understanding that, that,
that they haven’t got yet.
And that the teacher has and
is in a very frustrating way,
insisting they find for themselves.
That I think is, is,
is a psychological level and
at a level of interaction certainly
in a classroom though, less so
online where one is working
primarily in the solo context.
The another problem, though is that what
we call discipline-specific learning.
It’s not the same to play chess and
play baseball to to,
to do many different things in life.
To cook well.
To To make furniture.
Not all skills are really transferable.
It’s, there’s discipline
And, in a,
it, there’s a certain kind of reasoning
that takes place with historians.
They go into archives, they find
the a rare set of letters between a,
an early Nobel Prize winner and
his editor and they look into that and
they find all kinds of issues of
the day were boiling right beneath.
These letters have, have remarks
on the outbreak of World War I
that are very hard to understand and
that to a historian is fascinating.
Something distant, archival.
It takes a certain kind of thinking,
what was it that was bothering people?
What, what were the arguments
that are not being made?
What inferences can we make from a,
an old source that nobody’s
looked at in a long time?
That’s what historical
reasoning is partly about.
It’s about other things as well.
In in, in other fields,
say, take art history,
you have the notion of building on,
The discovery of ways
of accurately depicting
perspective which occurred
in the 15th century.
That builds, that then builds to other
achievements some achievements in the arts
were really, really advanced in the
classical era, in sculpture the depiction,
accurate depiction of the human body is
recovered later on in the renaissance.
So there’s a notion of building on,
on previous achievements.
That’s a, a way of understanding that
is particularly common in our history.
Where it’s breakthrough,
after breakthrough, after breakthrough.
Getting up finally to the influence of
African sculpture on on European artists,
in, in the,
at the turn of the last century.
And, and with Cubism.
So, these are ways of understanding
that are specific to the disciplines.
Anthropologists look at
topics like marriage or,
exchange, or or
food prohibitions in very different
from the ways that a that, that,
that we typically look at.
So they have a broad view of all kinds of
human variations, and literary scholars
are probably those who are most pursuant
who pursued the ambiguities of,
of, of, of language most
energetically because poetry and
novels depend on multiple meanings,
multiple layers of interpretation.
And, none of them ab, absolutely certain.
Some of them probably wrong but that’s
been an issue in the field for some time.
So, it’s, I would say the disciplines
have their own ways and
those are frustrating because
people want to understand
a given field coming in with what
they already have from another field.
In your materials which I thought were so
helpful, the eye of Einstellung.
You come in to a problem with
mental equipment that solved
the last problem that you solved and
it doesn’t work.
For example, you could look at history.
almost any historical phenomenon from
the point of view of competition.
But if you take the,
the lens of competition to
other subjects it doesn’t work.
You can take chronology and
it doesn’t always work.
There, so, it seems to me those are some
of the things that stand between a person
studying humanities for, for the first
time, or for the first time in a while.
And, and a feeling of accomplishment.
So one thing that,
that surprises me sometimes,
is I so love people who come with a,
a background in the humanities
because of their tolerance of ambiguity,
except for one thing.
They often are intolerant
of lack of ambiguity.
And they can think that people
with a scientific training or
an engineering training, are simplistic
because things are so straightforward.
And of course that’s, that sort of
putting their own lens in their own
stereotypes on what’s going on in those
fields because often there’s much more
ambiguity and divergence of approaches,
that might be a imagined.
But also, I think sometimes
lack of ambiguity is okay.
If something is clear,
if 2 plus 2 actually does equal 4.
You know, that’s not necessarily a bad
thing to have that lack of, ambiguity.
So, anyway, the,
there’s just such differences.
Well, I, that’s actually, particularly
a problem, that the frustration is a,
is a very understandable one.
I think it’s most, most felt in
the field of the study of literature.
They’re trends that have affected
teaching for the last 30, 40 years.
That, say an effect that, or at least
that are understood, whether correctly or
not, to say that you are,
that an interpretation can, is, that all
interpretations have some validity because
they occurred in an individual mind.
Well, sometimes things are flat out wrong.
And, we, in the Humanities,
we have not been
sufficiently attentive to the,
the idea of validity.
Of, of implausibility,
of being wrong about a given thing.
There are sometimes interpretations that
are mounted, that are flat out just wrong.
And claims made that are indefensible
that wind up falling
apart including some great thinkers.
Sigmund Freud was caught out in his
interpretation of Leonardo da Vinci.
He relied on the mistranslation of
the key word in the text, and his entire
interpretation was built on that, on that
one flaw, and once that flaw was revealed.
The, the, it was a house of cards.
Similarly, I understand,
though I don’t know this case as well,
that, Martin Heidegger was called
out on a misinterpretation of
a painting by Van Gogh of, shoes.
And in both cases the man who called
them out was an art historian
who knew the material a lot better.
So, humanists tend to get into a lot
of trouble when they try to be
Sometimes they do it and
do it brilliantly.
But, one thing about scientists that I so
admire, is that they
have tremendous respect for the
limitations of their own understanding.
This, this is built into lab work.
To the careful pursuit of conclusions,
some of which don’t work out.
In fact, a lot of which don’t work out.
Very comfortable with that.
Because when you find out you’re wrong,
in an experiment in a,
in sequencing DNA that is knowledge.
That’s a contribution.
That this avenue doesn’t go anywhere.
That it leads to an, you know,
that it was unproductive.
I haven’t seen that kind of recognition
in the humanities very much.
Well, one thing I sometimes notice is that
there is this tendency for
moral relativism that can arise and
The way that is found out of that is sort
of, there’s a happy medium to everything.
And so I always,
I kinda think sometimes.
Well is there a happy
medium then to genocide?
I mean if, you know, if no genocide and
then there’s genocide does that mean that
there’s a happy medium in where, you know?
Which is, I,
I think all of these things,
sometimes an engineering approach or
a more scientific approach to
these kinds of issues where,
where you are able to make a decision as
to whether something is right or wrong.
It can be helpful.
And I’ll even go one better, which is that
it’s not the case that creativity and
imagination are the primary
primarily owned by the humanities.
I don’t believe that for a minute.
The, a scientist is testing implausible
ideas and really testing them.
And there, the creativity that’s
gone into computer science,
into modern physics,
just to take the most staggering example.
There, there’s tremendous energy and
imagination coupled with
discipline in the sciences.
So, when people, and
when people talk about philoso,
the humanities taking on
the moral dimensions of existence.
others do this all the time as well.
I, I think it’s very unhelpful for
humanists to claim that
they have some special access to a,
a moral high ground.
This is probably not true, and certainly
unhelpful in advancing the cause and
making people want to study literature or
history or philosophy or,
or comparative religion which
is something we really need now.
We need to understand other religions,
because we’re mixing up in
ways we never did before.
And, and that’s the most pressing
of our needs, it seems to me.
And it’s it’s one thing
the humanities scholars and
the humanities texts and so
forth can really help people do.
Let me ask you this.
So, what about the use of online
resources like Wikipedia?
Do you have any sorts of advice for
Well the jury is still out on all of
that, but it’s, what I understand is that
in classes, whether online or
in person people are often discouraged
from using those sources, unless they
go through some kind of vetting.
On the one hand, if you look up
a Wikipedia entry for something that is
fairly remote, and not very controversial,
or not controversial at all.
Such as navigable rivers in Africa or
the history of a given plant,
its migration across across the globe,
Which has happened, is one of
the interesting things is botany.
There you might get a pretty reliable
case in the, in the Wikipedia entry.
But if you look up something like
the Kennedy assassination, or
the Reagan administration
policy in Central America.
Or any number of other
subjects of great controversy.
Then the Wikipedia entry is a kind,
is a battleground.
And that may be interesting to look at,
but if you’re looking for information you,
you’re in, you get into trouble.
It used to be that you could say
if any site has a .edu after it,
that that was a good sign,
but th, that seems to me not,
not something you’d
wanna take to the bank.
In many cases a .edu is a good sign,
but there are some subjects on which,
there are, you know, fringe elements,
within academia that present
as objective ideas or information that,
that others would challenge.
Main thing is to, that I happen to know
that certain things are controversial,
and you happen to know that.
But a person starting out, or kind of
midway through the study of a given
subject, can’t be expected to
know what’s controversial.
So you’re really out at
sea with online resources.
This was true of print
resources in the past as well.
Things like comments on online
sources sometimes can reveal
a controversy embedded.
If you have an, an entry in,
in a blog with 264 comments
following it, you can bet that
something in there ticked people off.
And that there’s something at, in dispute.
So I, those are, those are, I think
the problem is not, is not resolved yet.
We don’t have a Good Housekeeping seal.
And we have some mater,
some sites from learned societies that
are probably more reliable than others,
but many of them are restricted access.
So you don’t really know.
You have to be a paid up member
in order to get access to what
other scholars have vetted.
In, and in that case you know,
that’s not much help to a person out
there trying to learn on his or her own.
I wish I could give a more,
a more encouraging answer.
I think things are just working out.
The great news on online resources
is that if you’re interested in a,
well, I, I read a lot of poetry, and
I think of a particular author and
I hear about a poem, I look,
and there it is online.
Now, I will say though, typos slip in.
The additions of different poets
sometimes are at variance and
sometimes it really matters.
Even a comma in a Robert Frost poem
can be a matter of considerable
contention among those who
are devoted to Robert Frost.
And which edition of Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman you’re looking at can
be a matter of great concern.
So, even there, there’s a sloppiness
to a lot of what’s online.
And an inattentiveness to things like
accidentals, and, and formatting.
And in a lot of cases really quite hideous
formatting that are hard on the eyes,
and doesn’t make one want to read.
So there are many, many issues at stake.
Again, I wish I could say something
more emphatically encouraging, but
it’s what we have.
It’s all, in many ways, all to the good,
because things are available now that were
just required a trip to
a major library in the past.
Well, I think one thing that’s of
interest for people is, Daniel Kahneman,
the Nobel Prize winning psychologist has,
he has made the point that
there’s our fast thinking system and
our slow thinking system.
And our fast thinking is
emotionally based, and so
things like empathy and sympathy for
others that, that’s very fast.
And logical thinking is slow,
So often what very intelligent people
can do is they can leap to conclusions
based on their fast thinking systems.
And once they have leapt to those kinds
of conclusions, Einstellung kicks in.
They already think they have the answer,
they’re not gonna think about
more rational considerations.
my own research area involves how
altruism, well meaning efforts,
can go awry, and
actually end up harming people.
So sometimes, I think,
in these Wikipedia articles people
will go in, and they’ll edit, and
they’ll They’ll rewrite directly
counter to what is known in the facts.
But they do that because they really
think they’re helping others.
Those fast systems have kicked in and
you overwritten everything else,
facts kind of can go out the wayside.
And I find that whole
circumstance very interesting.
But the one really interesting thing about
that is you can have a really smart person
who jumps to conclusions.
They think they’ve got the right
answer for helping people.
And then other people
can jump on board and
you can think hey look there’s
a large group of people.
They must all be right
There couldn’t be that many
people that’re being wrong.
But actually that herd can go right along
doing things that can be very harmful for
And, we saw that with national
socialism in in Nazi Germany.
We saw that in Communist Russia with
We, we’ve, so large groups of people can
become involved in these kinds of things.
Well, I have to ask you though.
You are probably one of the most
wide-read just interested in new
things people I’ve ever met.
So what kinds of things do you, do you
do and what could you say to our viewers
about how to kind of keep interested and,
and keep your love of learning alive.
Any, any final thoughts on that.
Thank you, I don’t, I don’t think of
myself as having that much of a range but
I, I, I do read what I feel like reading.
And, for better or worse,
I seem to have continued to do it.
It hasn’t always been
professionally to my advantage but
I did it anyway because I just felt
that to do anything else would have
bored me or turned me into
something I didn’t want to be.
You create your own world.
And if you get to choose what’s in it,
you have a,
only yourself to blame if things don’t
work out, but you also have your,
you have some self, sense of self
awareness that comes from, making choices.
I think people should
trust what interests them.
I don’t mean just follow your dreams but,
but to be disciplined about the dream.
To choose books or ideas,
particularly those that aren’t,
don’t represent too deep a commitment.
Try something short before try,
trying something long.
Guess that’s why I’m attracted to poetry,
you can come back and re-read and
re-read but it’s not,
they’re not that long, most poems.
Artwork’s the same thing, you can keep
coming back to look at something or
a particular event if it’s recorded
on YouTube or on a, or, or
a speech, something that’s,
that’s, in effect,
not quite memorizable, but easy to
commit in a lot of detail to memory.
Stock your memory.
Because when you’re bored if you’re
waiting in line to get on an airplane or
you’re waiting for
your car to be fixed and
you have a flat tire and,
you know, or whatever.
If you have your mind well
stocked with fairly specific, and
tight, and coherent things,
it makes life a lot easier to get through.
And is a source of enter, you know,
entertainment, or even of passion.
I think reading is the main way to,
where I happen to have gotten.
But it wasn’t always voluminous,
but rather selective
according to my interests.
A lot of people in America,
thanks to technology,
have a great commitment and love of music.
It wasn’t possible a, a hundred years ago.
You, you didn’t have phonograph, well, you
had phonographs just be coming out and,
you know, the recorded sound
technology was making some progress.
But a hundred years before that you,
you had to listen to music being played.
It had a great power in human life
back then, but now it’s everywhere.
It’s annoyingly everywhere, actually.
But we, if you get to choose it, again,
if you choose your music you can.
You can choose other things in life.
And it’s all really readily available
thanks again to the magnificent
The wealth of what’s on the web.
But with music you take that and I happen
to be very important to me and so I think
one of the good things that’s happened
is we have lots of good biographies.
Identify ideas and history and
other things that concern you with
the lives and achievements of individuals.
Goes against something of the grain and
where we think, that, that, you know,
in some academic circles
the individual has been demoted and
that what we’re really just
dealing with is social forces.
And there are social forces behind
the music of Johann Sebastian Bach or
of Ludwig von Beethoven or Friedrich
Chopin, those happen to be my mainstays.
There are certainly social
forces behind the Beatles.
behind the early Joan Baez or Bob Dylan,
others that are important to me,
Those are, so
there you have biographies available.
Who are these people?
You get curious about
the individuals who made history.
It, there, there are you know,
the lives of individuals can inspire us,
can warn us,
can give us, permission to seek.
I, that for me is the great
thing about the humanities,
is that, that we do get biography.
We also get biographies
of great scientists.
I think of Walter Isaacson’s
biographies of great scientists and
those are, those are wonderful
humanistic texts that he created for us.
they’re many others that are out there.
John Elliot Gardiner has
a new biography of Bach.
There always seems to be another
book about Beethoven every year.
And so whatever it is that inspires you.
Even tragic figures like Van Gogh.
Or William Blake, or many others.
People who’ve, who led less than
happy lives are wonderful to read,
and, and to know.
I think getting to know people in
history is a wonderful experience.
I just, not long ago, read,
read Sam Gwynne’s Empire of
the Summer Moon, about the Comanches.
Now, I’m, so
that made me a fan of Sam Gwynne and
now I’m reading his Stonewall Jackson and.
I just love, I’m a biography junkie.
And I’m always surprised at how I can
be inspired by both the triumphs and
the mistakes of people in history.
I think it lends great examples for
all of us.
On the matter of biography,
if I could just add a little squib here.
Autobiography is another great source.
And, I, for me,
one of the most important books I ever
read was the first thing that was assigned
to me in my first college course was
The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
And he talked a little bit
about teaching and music.
He was a music teacher.
And he said he didn’t really
know anything about music but
he knew he could stay one
lesson ahead of his students.
And I thought now, that’s inspired,
maybe I should be a teacher.
There was my, my invitation.
And I think reading autobiography
can encourage students and
people ta, in classes and, and
people doing online courses.
In writing their own.
Write a memoir.
What was it about that person that who
just died who was important in your life.
Write about him.
What about the person who’s, who’s, whom
you know has, had troubles in life and
seems to be making, making,
making things go well.
What is it.
It can be private.
But I think that, that autobiography
leads to memoir and this can be again for
personal private consumption and
it can turn into more than that.
So that’s another, again,
something that of course scientists
have written autobiographies.
Again nothing special about
the humanities here except it
seems to have landed in our territory.
Well thank you so much again.
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