Category Archives: Liberal arts

Be still

Though confined to my quarters and locked down, I am allowed to go out for health-giving perambulation. Today I passed the marquee of a church which exhorted me to consult Psalm 37-7.

Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes. But 

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

In the context of the Floyd/Trump riots, this scripture may have been cited to discourage rioting. Or, It might have been cited to guide righteous policing. Or, maybe it goes to protesting or to the regulation of protests.

Good Psalm though.  

On public libraries

There’s an obituary in today’s Greensboro newspaper (nothing to do with Coronavirus) for a man named Tex Wood.

At the end of his obituary, it says “When once asked by the librarian in Stuart [Patrick County Public Library, Stuart, Virginia] to complete a comment card … as part of a funding request, his reply, which remains on the librarian’s desk today, was pure Tex. ‘A community without a library is a cesspool.’”

I did not know this man, but I will miss him.

Longest-running pick-up basketball game in the WORLD at Guilford College

By rights, Guilford College would be known as the Mother of College Sports in North Carolina.

The first college baseball game in North Carolina was played there. Later, Guilford baseball teams were preeminent among southern colleges and a parade of its graduates became professional stars and hall-of-famers. In the 1960s and ‘70s, it produced now-legendary basketball teams and players. To this day, Guilford basketball, golf, volleyball, softball, and other teams achieve success at the national level (NCAA, Division III), year-in and year-out. And Guilford is a leader in providing new opportunities for women, most recently having fielded a women’s rugby team. As many as 40% of Guilford students are varsity athletes, and graduates of its sports management curriculum regularly graduate to become coaches, athletics administrators, and managers of professional sports franchises.

But those are merely conventional measures of success in college athletics.

Guilford professor Richie Zweigenhaft has published a new book that points the way to the ultimate evolution of college sports: Geezerball, North Carolina Basketball at its Eldest. (Half Court Press 2020).

Guilford College, after all, is a classic, small, independent liberal arts college. It prepares its graduates not merely for jobs, or even careers, but for successful, rounded, and gratifying lives. And Professor Zweigenhaft’s memoir demonstrates as powerfully as that first baseball game did, the important place of sports (and team sports) in everyone’s lives.

The longest-running pick-up basketball game in the world is played at Guilford College. It’s been going for more than forty years. Its current players range in age from their thirties to their seventies. It has been the subject of magazine, newspaper, and journal articles – and now it has a book.

What it is, is a demonstration of where sports fits and why it’s important not to drop games when school is done. Zweigenhaft quotes George Bernard Shaw: “We do not quit playing because we grow old. We grow old because we quit playing.”

And the forty-year-old Geezerball game at Guilford College is a model for students and graduates of all stripes. It has been open to students, professors, college staff, and members of the Greensboro community, including men and women of all races, the short and the tall, the quick and the not-so-quick. Befitting its demographics, it makes a place for those who value strategy and teamwork over running and gunning. Players include not just academics, but bankers, doctors, salesmen, podiatrists. Pretty much anybody. Mostly professionals. Notably, not lawyers.

The book boasts cover blurbs from an NBA Commissioner and a prominent NBA coach, which extol Zweigenhalft’s work, although the credits on the copyright page admit that the quotations are fake. Scorners or whitlings might cavil that, since those blurbs are fake anyway, they could have been a bit more enthusiastic. What kind of modesty is this?

Ultimately though, and memoir though it may be, Geezerball is a model: lifelong athletics alongside lifelong learning. The guiding principles of the longest-running pick-up game in the world set forth by Zweigenhalft are (1) everyone plays an equal amount, (2) injuries and arguments are to be minimized, and (3) friendship first (a maxim taken from the Chinese Communist ping pong team). And the outlines of a grand vision may be discerned in those principles.

It’s not about stats. It doesn’t end when school is done. It may be the ultimate evolution of sport as part of a liberal learning community.

Jesus, Paul, Micah, George Fox — MidLaw takes a turn to the religious

David French recently pointed to

Jesus:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

Paul:

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.

Micah:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

French did not cite George Fox, but he might have. Fox was not so succinct, but he was munchier.

This is the word of the Lord God to you all: Go not forth to the aggravating part, to strive with it out of the power of God, lest ye hurt yourselves, and run into the same nature, out of the life. For patience must get the victory, and to answer that of God in everyone; it must bring everyone to it; to bring them from the contrary. So let your moderation, and temperance, and patience be known unto all men in the seed of God. For that which reacheth to the aggravating part without life, sets up the aggravating part, and breeds confusion; and hath a life in outward strife, but reacheth not to the witness of God in everyone, through which they might come into peace and covenant with God, and fellowship one with another. Therefore that which reacheth this witness of God in yourselves, and in others, is the life and light; which will out-last all, and is overall, and will overcome all. And therefore in the seed of life live, which bruiseth the seed of death.

The conservative response would be to seek to follow these foundational Christian precepts.

So would the radical, progressive, and liberal responses.

Marcus in a dyspeptic moment

What was he reading?

In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius advises

Cast out the thirst for books that you may not die growling, but with true graciousness, and grateful to the gods from the heart.

For most of his career, and especially while he campaigned on the northern borders, which is when he wrote The Meditations, Marcus had no access to cable TV.

Allowing for the subsequent passage of time, one may perhaps broadly interpret what he was saying as: “watch too much cable TV and you will die growling.”  Grrrr.

Cast out that thirst.

The “first planter of education” at Guilford College was a woman “who stepped directly from the forest” – Anne the Huntress

Guilford College is rightly celebrated as the first coeducational college in the South.

What may be less well known is the tale of the first “planter of education” in the community that became Guilford College. She was known as “Anne the Huntress.” Her character and attributes color the culture, if not the attire, of women (and men) at Guilford College to this day. She stepped directly from the forest.

Quoth Dorothy Gilbert:

The first planter of education [in the New Garden community] was a woman who stepped directly from the forest in 1790 and vanished away into it seventeen years later. Her coming was dramatic. A large company had gathered to watch a shooting match, and suddenly there was among them a beautiful young woman carrying a highly ornamented rifle and equipped with a shot pouch, belt, hunting knife, and hatchet. She asked permission to take a shot with contesting riflemen: then she stepped to the line, gracefully raised her rifle, took quick aim, and fired. The ball drove the center sixty yards away. And this was the teacher, for Ann the Huntress – she never gave another name – lingered happily in the community for years: and as she visited from home to home, she taught the children for her recreation and killed the deer for her livelihood. She particularly objected to careless pronunciation, and young Quakers began the use of the final consonant. The speech within that neighborhood showed perceptible differences, and Addison Coffin believed that the influence of Anne the Huntress accounted for it and prepared the way for the success of [what became Guilford College].

This teacher “who wore Indian leggings and carried her rifle,” Gilbert believed, ”deserves commemoration in the annals of the profession.” She came from the forest and she planted a tradition of education and refinement at the very beginnings of the New Garden settlement in the Carolinas. “Ann the Huntress” was her name.

To this day, selected Guilford students may be observed to exhibit memorable attire. Perhaps there is a strain of the Huntress in that.

While no latter-day Guilford student is known to carry a silver-plated rifle (nor would a rifle likely be welcome on campus in these parlous times), one account of Ann’s 1790 bullseye reports that she fired a second shot immediately after the first – and landed it “neatly atop the first;” and hitting the mark is another Huntress attribute that characterizes Guilford students to this day. It is seen in the performance of Guilford’s golf and basketball teams, the creations of its Mark Dixon’s sculpture students, and the precision of all those accounting majors.

Issues of careless pronunciation among present-day Guilfordians want closer scrutiny.

 

Contronyms: at the frontiers of language

Somewhere in Southern California, there’s a lady named Judith Herman.  She’s got a blog: Lexie Kahn, Word Snooper. Her snoop is “Lexie Kahn, Private Etymologist.”

Herman is doing good work.

She’s published “25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites;” and “16 More Words That Are Their Own Opposites.” Others are on this trail. Somebody posted “20 Words That Are Their Own Opposites.” Grammarly posted 75 Contronyms (Words with Contradictory Meanings)

Words that mean exactly what they don’t mean.

Go English!

 

 

Axios reports college education is moving away from job training to problem-solving — right down Guilford College’s alley

Axios is reporting that “seismic shifts created by frontier technologies are challenging a centuries-old model of higher education.”

When it’s hard to predict what the jobs of the next 10 years will be — much less the next 50 years — acquiring the skills necessary to acquire skills is more important than the specifics of any given discipline.

* * * *
For those jobs that will exist, experts say, the uniquely human skill of problem-solving is essential, rather than a specific major.

The old model of studying one thing is giving way to a need for broadly trained workers.

MidLaw is not yet ready to concede that job preparation is the ultimate objective of a liberal education. (Life preparation is.) But – MidLaw must not let the dimming perspectives of age and wisdom, blind it to what is happening now. The world turns. Seismic shifts shake the frontiers. Wisdom grows.

Who doesn’t want problem solvers? Who doesn’t want to be one?

Axios failed to mention The Guilford Edge. It should have. Guilford College is on target.

Guilford has designed new structures to ensure that students can identify learning pursuits that excite them. As they work on what interests them, the Edge ensures that students will acquire skills – the skills they need to pursue immediate interests, which are also skills that they will need to solve new problems in the future.

Guilford has put in place new kinds of teachers, advisors, guides, and coaches. They supplement traditional academic advisors. These include the innovative Guilford Guides (every student is paired with a specially trained personal “guide” who has an advanced degree in counseling) and teams of on- and off- campus advisors, employers, alumni, who will give structure and grounding to students’ experiences.

The Guilford Edge aligns uniquely with the programs of Guilford’s signature Center for Principled Problem Solving.

Guilford College gearing up for ground-breaking program

Guilford College is rethinking what it takes to transform 21st Century high school graduates into skilled, grounded 21st Century human beings.

Famously, one-hundred-and-seventy years ago Nereus Mendenhall said that the business of Guilford College is to

produce men and women with well-trained minds and good hearts; people who can think for themselves and not be blown about by every wind of doctrine.

Pretty old-fashioned, what? NOT. But some renovation is in order.

The new student experience at Guilford, called “the Guilford Edge” brings 21st Century thinking to the old mission. It’s re-gearing the College to bring to students new personal and developmental resources that match and support Guilford’s traditional academic strengths. In keeping with Guilford’s 175-year tradition, the student experience at Guilford will be tailored to each student, personally and one-by-one.

New facilities, new curriculum, new student engagement-and-support programs, are coming. First is re-imagining the buildings and grounds to hold and advance the new student experience. Already, new facilities are generating new energy.

Between now and Fall of 2019 the rest is coming.

World seems to be orienting itself to the program at Guilford College

Axios Future is reporting that creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management are the skills most in demand in the workplace. Axios cites the LinkedIn Learning Blog which in turn is based on LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report.

LinkedIn in goes on to identify the 25 most needed hard skills, as well.

It’s right remarkable how both sets of skills line up with the Guilford Edge at Guilford College. And see how that lines up with this recent post and the one after that.