Sunday, January 15, 2012

Back in Philly

Over the weekend, I travelled to Philadelphia for the National Lacrosse Coaches Convention.  A great networking event, with countless lectures on every facet of the game.  Herm Edwards, former NFL star and head coach, was a powerful speaker as was Coach John Danowski of Duke University.  Perhaps, the best part was the quality time to talk and share ideas with my coaching staff. 

One topic of debate was the use of Twitter and Blogger and how to use technology effectively to communicate.  With the many hats that I wear as a coach, English teacher, and Dean, I see potential for all of these since I can address specific audiences, effectively.  But when is technology too much?  In an information age, how do we glean what is important and discard that which is a distraction?  There's only so much time in the day. And my fifteen minutes is up for tonight; however, I started the following post on Friday morning: 

When I was in college at the University of Pennsylvania, I was dead broke most of the time, and either working out for lacrosse, studying as an English major, or making ends meet by working at Smokey Joe's Cafe or at the current periodicals desk of the Van Pelt Library. Throughout the week, I would squeeze a couple hours at the desk in between classes and practices, but on Sundays I would work a long shift, usually from opening, and sometimes to close, in order to get my allotted 20 hours of my federal work study grant. It was at the current periodicals desk that I may have received most of my Ivy League education.

On Sundays, undergrads and grad students would come to my desk and check out journals - over 4000 were, literally, at my fingertips.  Many students would come in smelling like a dirty ashtray (some I had seen while I was working at Smoke's the night before).  They'd have to write a research paper; some knew what they were looking for... others, not so much. Very quickly I would develop a sense of who was in which class. And I figured out the assignments during the course of the day since the same students would come looking for the same resources.  Inevitably, out of sheer boredom at times, I would read these journals and usually help out as I became an expert in the topic - or at least the assignment.

To be honest, if they were polite, I would help; however, if they did not treat me like a human being and treated me like a servant sitting behind a desk, I merely gave them what they asked for.

But the true education may have been the exposure I had to all of these journals and current periodicals (magazines and newspapers) from all over the world from every subject matter that one could possibly imagine - on subjects that I didn't even know existed. Keep in mind when I was in college email was only available at certain universities - there was no jstor.org (an online academic digital archive), let alone websites for such publications; thus, Penn's resources made it a regional mecca for publications.  I would leaf through these journals.  As I read, I learned more I did in my classes - I read whatever drifted across my desk.

Today, I realized that's what Twitter's become for me, but more specific to my interests.  Whatever I'm passionate about following, whatever comes up in my Twitter feed, reminds me of those days in college of finding something interesting and reading it.

Why? Curiosity.

The longer I teach, the more I realize that the only education I can offer is intellectual curiosity.   Read Emerson. Read Thoreau. Read Franklin.

It's all been said before, but you need to read it to find out.  

In the meantime, set up a Twitter account, follow your passions on Twitter, and let things drift across your desk. Get curious. Read. 

Warning: Who you follow on Twitter is as important as the friends you keep, so be careful who you follow.  Tweet knowing that all the world can see your words; thus, be impeccable with your word.

P.S. Pressed for time, I dictated this message into my phone, early in the morning.  

*I confess it took me another ten minutes to edit this post.  Good night!

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