Saturday, April 23, 2011

And one more poem...

This one, I think, sums up everything I was trying to state with the poetry:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

-William Cowper, God Moves in a Mysterious Way

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Round 1

Winter Semester v. Brett Peterson: Brett 1-0.

Round two: Spring term v. Brett Peterson.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Selected Poems

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

- William Blake, from Milton


The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device,

And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell, like a falling star,

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Excelsior


Sail forth--steer for the deep waters only,
Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me,
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!

- Walt Whitman, from Passage To India

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Race to the Finish

It's the last sprint to the end now: 7 pages before 8 am this morning, two more finals, 30 page portfolio to finish and turn in, and then an Honors Thesis proposal to write and turn in.
Then, I move out of my apartment, and then it's one week to write the final Honors Thesis and half of an independent study course.
Then eight weeks of the equivalent of 22 credits (11, during the spring term) plus two independent study courses. Free Fridays are for finishing the first correspondence course and then starting and finishing another. Six finals, and then I fly to Europe for a whirlwind two-week tour. If I have any stamina left, then it will be eight weeks in Cambridge, writing 25-50 pages a week.

Then, THEN, I will be graduated; I will be able to sleep, to rest, to renew.

And then I start applying to grad school.

Don't get me wrong: this will be an intensely joyous and happy time. It will also be intensely difficult. This is my refiner's fire; an academic and spiritual fuller's soap. I can't get through this without a lot of divine help, which is what has enabled me to write 25 pages in the past five days, and which is what will enable me to finish the additional 37 I need to turn in during the upcoming five.

So: I apologize in advance for a reduced number of posts. I will try to use writing - blogging - as a break from other writing projects, if that helps me continue with my other work.

I will also use this as my travel blog again, so look for posts from and about Europe in the near future.

Until then, I'll see you on the other side.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A different kind of post

I have just completed my application to the Cambridge PKP supervision course. In the course, a students works directly with a Cambridge professor on a topic of their choice; as a result, students must first submit an application enabling Cambridge to match students with appropriate tutors.

Since I suspect that someone I will soon go on a date with may read this blog post, I sought something that would introduce me to them in a positive way. I believe that this application describes me intimately: for their sake, and for yours, I post it here.

Briefly describe your proposal. 250 words.

Through interaction with a Cambridge tutor, a personal ontological perspective will be developed, codified and refined during the first two weeks of instruction. Ideally, discussion will focus on the works of Georg Simmel, Emmanuel Levinas, and Soren Kierkegaard; however, it is expected that the tutor will include their own ontological perspectives as elements of the discussion.

During the following three weeks of instruction, the student’s ontological perspective will be developed into an educational model and described in written form. In this process, a range of pedagogical practices and theories will be evaluated and selectively incorporated into the educational model, based on the degree of fit between the pedagogical practices and the ontological perspective. Where available, empirical data on pedagogical
practices will be reviewed and incorporated into the pedagogical-method evaluation process

In the final three weeks of instruction, a general model for translating ontological and phenomenological perspectives into educational systems will be developed. Specifically, a series of questions will be formulated; the pattern of questions, and their corresponding answers, will serve as a guide for developing multiple systems of education based on varied ontological foundations.

The written products of all three stages of instruction will be gathered into a paper describing a model for the development of ontologically appropriate systems of education. To guide the supervision, a tutor with expertise in educational philosophy and/or sociological theory would be preferred; however, any tutor or number of tutors comfortable with the process described would be able to provide the desired assistance.

Why do you want to pursue this independent study option and what benefit do you hope to gain from it? 250 words.

I will eventually pursue a career in education reform; specifically, I believe that the philosophical foundations of the American system of public education do violence to the moral and active nature of individuals. As a result, I wish to explore and develop educational philosophies upon which to base more acceptable systems of instruction. To develop my own educational philosophy, I intend to first explore and develop my own ontological perspective.

The independent study option attracted my attention because it provides focused opportunities to develop my ontological perspective and educational philosophy. I hope that the supervision will provide an environment which will intensely refine my ideas by testing them against the expertise and knowledge of the tutor and selected texts. This process will thereby improve the efficacy and internal consistency of the school system I eventually develop. I recognize that many other individuals do not share my ontological perspective. Thus, I hope to also develop a generally applicable model or starting point for individuals wishing to establish philosophically and culturally appropriate systems of education. After identifying my own ideas and realizing them in a school system, I wish to provide others with the same opportunity. I anticipate that assisting religious, cultural, ethnic, and linguistic groups in forming appropriate systems of education will form a significant portion of my future career.

Thus, I am attracted to the supervision option in order to directly pursue the intellectual and practical preparation I desire for my future work in educational reform.

Briefly describe any relevant work you have already done in the area.

In the past year, I have taken two courses on classical and contemporary sociological theory. Each course was designed to familiarize students with the general ontological perspectives of well- known theorists; the theoretical survey began with Plato and Socrates and concluded with the works of Michel Foucalt, Judith Butler, and Jurgen Habermas. Another course taken simultaneously examined the life and philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard. Previously, I completed a philosophically-grounded tutorial on the sociology of international development which provided additional insight into various systems of thought. I am currently taking a course in organizational theory; my research in the course applies organizational theory to educational institutions.

During the sociology of international development course, I discovered that my ontological perspective was insufficient to account for my analysis of the theories I was studying. As a result, I began to explicitly formulate my own ontological perspective through writing. As I have explored additional philosophical and theoretical positions, I have continued to refine my ontological position.

In education, I have studied the sociology of education in four courses, including a course providing an overview of the subject, a course on the production and reproduction of social inequality through education, a tutorial on the limitations of schools as agents of social change, and a research course examining the impact of religious institutions on educational outcomes. Following the research course, I conducted a qualitative field study in South Africa on the educational consequences for students of varying degrees of religious involvement. After returning to the United States, I conducted a similar study using quantitative data and presented the findings at the 2011 Pacific Sociological Association Conference. I am currently preparing a paper detailing the findings for publication.

I am currently co-authoring a study describing the distribution and evaluating the effects of various expressions of educational philosophy in e-learning systems in Utah; the study is slated to conclude in December of this year.

Please list below any books or other sources which may be relevant to the topic.

Totality and Being – Emmanuel Levinas
Otherwise than Being – Emannuel Levinas
Twilight of the Idols – Friedrich Nietzche
Archaeology of Knowledge – Michel Foucalt
Being and Nothingness – Jean Paul Sartre
Truth and Existence – Jean Paul Sartre
Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paulo Freire
How We Think - John Dewey
De Magistro – Saint Augustine
The Philosophy of Teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas – Mary Helen Mayer
From Childhood to Adolescence – Maria Montessori
Various books of Christian scripture
Various commentaries and explanations on non-Christian scripture

As an added bonus for those of you who scrolled down: