For me, “to live is to learn” in the great classroom we call “the world.” When I reach the point where this is no longer true for me it will be time for me to permanently check out of this life.
This great classroom is full of things to be learned. The physical world around me with all of its beauty and splendor; the world of ideas in history; in philosophy; in biography; in theology and spirituality and religion and in science. I am also constantly learning from the people I’m surrounded by and interact with. All are also part of the great classroom I inhabit day after day.
I always have been an avid reader and my interests are varied and widespread. For example, currently I’m reading a book by Walter Brueggemann Out of Babylon that compares the Jewish exiles living under the domination system of Babylon to Christians in the U.S. living under the domination system of American empire. Both try to answer the basic question How do we retain our identity as Jews or Christians under the domination systems we are currently living under? I’m currently reading Breathing Under Water by Richard Rohr, which is about the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous applied to Christian spirituality. I just finished a biography of President George Herbert Walker Bush, The Power and the Destiny (a book on tape that was read to me, which was 625 pages in length), and another biography of John Newton, famous for his life as a slave trading sea captain and begin transformed by his conversion to Christ. He wrote the wonderful hymn Amazing Grace to describe that transformation. I’m now listening to a book on tape, The Indigenous Peoples of North America.
Besides books, I learn each day from people who visit me–my ministers, my family, my friends, my hospice team–They are all part of my classroom.
I learn from the media as they report and editorialize on the news of the day. Programs such as: PBS Newshour, Washington Week, CBS’s 60 Minutes and the morning and evening news programs.
I long ago crossed the threshold of learning because I had to do so (as at school) to learning because I loved to do so. That is the true test of success for our educators today. It is “to enable children to emerge from schools with the life-long desire and love of learning, while having the tools to do so.
As students go back to classrooms this Autumn, I pray that teachers, administrators, board members and legislators keep this lofty goal always in their minds. We need to produce students who strive to and love to learn–not because it is necessary to pass some test, but because it is necessary to satisfy the craving to learn that is a trait of all people if it is not smothered out by those who are preparing them.