In Greek and Celtic mythology there is a story of a famous innkeeper who
promises his guests a wonderful night’s sleep if they will stay at his inn, and
enjoy his magical bed.When his guests complain that his beds are too short
or too long, he assures them that they will grow accustomed to these new
accommodations, and he sends them back off to bed.
As soon as his guests fall off to sleep, he sneaks into their rooms and —
with the fantastic swiftness of many myths — he cuts off their legs or
stretches them. “What better way to provide for the perfect fit for his
guests?’ he thinks.
When we teach the Humanities, we start with the “guest” — the student. As
much as we want to show our students the “magic” and liberation, and the
growth and self-discovery that the humanities can offer them, we must
always remember that what they need from us is not the story of that joy —
but the tools for finding it themselves.
Thus, rather than promise a good’s night sleep — or a life of convictions
and fulfillment — we model it. We model for our students the passion, the
responsibility, and the deliberateness with which we come to our own
studies, and we make them colleagues in that journey. In making them
colleagues, we learn about their particular interests and goals — and in turn,
we become allies in showing them the degree to which their particular goals
are part of a complex of other disciplines, other intellectual questions. In
other words, we help them to see connections — connections, not just
between intellectual questions and disciplines, but also between human
beings and each human being’s individual journey.
- M. B. McLatchey
Copyright © 2009 M. B. McLatchey. All rights reserved.