This is neither here nor there, but this year my 3 and 9/10ths daughter and I went trick-or-treating with an old friend of mine and a group of his friends. My friend was a former student of mine that was so traumatized by my class (due to his religious beliefs… I was teaching Spinoza that semester and asked him questions, in response to remarks like “Christianity just makes sense to me”, like whether Hinduism would have made sense to him had he grew up in India) that he decided to pursue higher education in philosophy of religion and eventually became a very fine educator and professor himself. I hope and believe that he grew spiritually as a result of this encounter, even if I don’t share his beliefs, and am proud of the person he is today as I played some, small, part in that. I’m proud to count him as one of my closest friends. Among our crowd was another one of my former students from Australia, a wonderful and insightful woman who took my class for the hell of it. When going from house to house I ran into four or five other former students and their siblings. This is a common experience for me. I’m constantly running into former students at the grocery store, restaurants, etc. There’s something that is a bit overwhelming in this… Touching all these lives and helping them to better formulate their own thoughts and destiny, not through indoctrination, but simply through exposure and encouragement… Simply through dialogue, wherever the dice might fall and regardless of whether they ultimately come to agree with me (I try to keep “myself” out of the classroom as much as possible). I suppose this is to be expected when you engage in “industrial teaching”, working with 160 students a semester. I would miss this were I to leave Texas. It wasn’t what I thought it would be when I was still in Chicago. I went as a “professor” for Halloween. That’s not irony.
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