As I have grown older, I have found it ever-so-slightly-more-difficult to sustain focused attention and thought. I try, though, in so many facets of my life — from my interactions with my family, to conversations with colleagues, and in my contemplative practices.
One of today’s particular opportunities for sustained focus and thought occurred during the second session of the book club in which I am participating. We’re reading Palmer and Zajonc’s The Heart of Higher Education, and the particular challenge today was in sustaining our focus on the various dimensions of the rationale for integrative education. Certainly, we touched on several potentially complex topics, such as spatial relativity, reductionism, and epistemology. The temptation was to step around these topics and move, instead, to questions of “How do I do this in the classroom?” Or, “Here’s why I can’t do this in my course.” We experienced what Palmer warned us about — namely, a “…rush to technique, to problem-solve pressing educational dilemmas, (which) can obscure the indispensable need for a truly adequate foundation if our pedagogies are to serve the real aims of higher education” (page 61). I think we’re beginning to build this foundation. We just need to give the cement time to dry.