The First Phaedrus chat

P: So how was the session?
S: Too much negative vibes. And to add to that I kept them late, I delayed them, in the evening. And they probably cursed me for it.
P: So what are you going to do?
S: Should I give up? And do a ‘project’ where they can sefely go ahead not tampering with their minds. Just doing some work and I will promise not to look at how they think – but will look away from them and look only at what they produce. I will accept that Education is not about their learning to learn – but is the cafe model of production and consumption. Dont go into the kitchen! Just come in, eat what we serve and value us only for what we serve. Judge us. Focus, Focus, Focus – only on outputs. Dont go into the process. Dont discuss creativity. Discuss solutions. Like it is some bizarre mathematical game. UGH!
P: You were doing quite well till the end there. So you cant go on in the way you portray. Would it help if you laid it all out. Like you have done for the films – just give them the menu – and let them chose what they want to eat. But I see your point – you dont think there is any point in the eating. Or the decor. It is about the food – and what is food. Like you say – is snake also food? And your students are saying no – we dont want to go there. Only lolly is food. Hmmm. But you have time.

(to be continued)

Phaedrus was this character in Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Where he speaks of the real university. And it has these interesting parallels with us: In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, is not about orthodox Zen Buddhism. Neither is it much about motorcycle maintenance. In this (obviously) autobiographical first novel, Pirsigs struggles with (amongst other things) the origins of Quality (Yes, he spells it with a capital Q). Is Quality merely relative? Is it just a matter of opinion? Personal prejudice? If it is, then is the Mona Lisa merely an over rated piece of doodling? Pirsig thinks not. Quality is absolute and has its origins at the highest primary level. And it does not go unnoticed that many of Pirsig’s sentences will retain their meaning if the word ‘Quality’ was exchanged for ‘God’. From Silverfish books.

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5 Replies to “The First Phaedrus chat”

  1. Soumitri, hope we didn’t vibe you out yesterday. I’m really interested where this is going, just may take me awhile to get there! It may just be the first time many of us have had to ‘think’ as it is so easy to breeze throught life today without doing any. Have hope!

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  2. I realise that we don’t seem to be entering into the spirit of the game Soumitri, but that is more about our grappling with unfamiliar concepts than lack of desire. From what I feel and from what others are saying – we don’t know what’s going on or where it is going but we are interested and want to go there.

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  3. i totally agree with steve. we want to go. but it may take time to get there becuase for how ever many years of our lives we have been taught to think about things in a set way and so we must start to break out of the mould to get to where you want us to go.

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  4. i agree with all of the above, but add that i think we are scared to speak with radical and vastly different ideas because we are unsure of what people in the class will think or say. And that may also include you, soumitri. Can we work out a way of embracing the freedom to think without restraint, and yet have gentle coersion to stay on the subject?

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