Monthly Archives: May 2017

Wisdom and Eloquence (Maddie Hoaglund)

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Aristotle once reasoned, “It is absurd to hold that any man should be ashamed of an inability to defend himself with his limbs, but not ashamed of an inability to defend himself with speech and reason; the use of rational speech is more distinctive of a human being than the use of his limbs.” Rational thought and speech is a defining characteristic of mankind. All creatures possess the basic instincts necessary for survival, but mankind possesses far more than instinct. They are able to think rationally, which in turn produces the beauty and complexity present in every human life. To retain this quality, we should be mindful of cultivating rational thought and its applications for our posterity. The education of our children should thus be primarily focused the mastery of the techniques and processes of learning.

Currently society has demonstrated a lack of desire and ability to teach in this manner. Instead of teaching students the methods of learning, many schools simply focus on rote memorization and surface level comprehension of material. Westminster must stand against this trend.

 

Westminster should be mindful of endowing its students through education with the ability to reason with eloquence and to encourage virtue and honor among them. Westminster should seek to cultivate students who have an understanding of the learning process. This skill creates a coveted perception of the world and cultivates the ability to reason rationally and independently.

In her essay “The Lost Tools of Learning,” Dorothy Sayers comments about the danger of lack of original thought: “They (students) do not know what the word mean…they are prey to the words and their emotions instead of being masters of them in their intellects. We have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal job of it.” When teachers or professors concentrate on the absorption of material, the student gleans no benefit. Instead, this practice subjects the student to the manipulation of the world around them. If a student is instructed only in the required content and discouraged to question the process, then most students will never ask the crucial question: Why?

The modern world was formed because many brilliant men and women defied convention. However, the world remains corrupt and hurling students into the world with no aptitude for original thought is irresponsible. They fall prey to those who seek to constrain those who pursue change. Therefore, it is imperative that Westminster be mindful of encouraging original thought and equipping students with the eloquence to convey these thoughts. Students, upon being released into the world, must be motivated by original thought and armed with eloquence to create lasting change.
Although Westminster must be ever vigilant that their students receive the gift of thought, they must also be conscious of the caliber of people that the university creates. The students must be able to think independently, but also should demonstrate virtue. Once again, Aristotle reasons, “Talent is given. Potential is realized. You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is, therefore, not an act but a habit.” The rigor of the classroom favors those who strive for excellence. It is not accidental and is always well deserved. Therefore, those who pursue and achieve this quality of excellence are benefitted in more ways than one. Of course, there is the reward of the achievement, but there is also an unintended consequence. Perseverance and determination are produced. These will in turn produce men and women with the capability and desire to attain integrity. They will enter the world with the ability to substantially impact those around them through their virtue. The rigor of the study will create those who will impact society through actions of virtue and character.
Westminster must be mindful of the students they are producing. They must be equipped with the ability to think with originality and to effectively convey their thoughts to the rest of humanity. Although this is essential, the university must not neglect creating through a rigorous education the standard of character and honor for their students to uphold. These two ambitions will generate students who will be able to permanently impact society. They will be able to reason with eloquence and communicate with virtue. Endowed with reason and eloquence, the students of Westminster will be able to defend their ideas, beliefs, and higher quality of society and community.

The Gatsby Fix (Mackie Benson)

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I was mindlessly doodling in my freshman American Literature class when our teacher threw a little book at me. It was the first book we were going to be reading in that beloved class. I half-mindedly took the notes he was giving us: the background of the author, repetitive themes, everything we needed to know about the story. Though I tried to focus on the lesson, my thoughts were drawn to the colorful book that was looking back at me. I opened its pages and read, “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.”
Immediately, I was engrossed by Nick Carraway’s words. With every sentence, I fell even deeper in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I became very emotionally involved with every movement in the plot. To say the least, it was difficult not to read ahead. All that I wanted was to curl up in isolation and read all one hundred eighty pages in one sitting. I willingly and enthusiastically followed the famous the characters through the adventurous summer of 1922. I was intrigued by Daisy’s charming behavior and why she would have married a man such as Tom Buchanan. Jay Gatsby completely overwhelmed me. Each plot point seemed to paint a different picture of the characters than the one I thought I knew. I understood Nick’s curiosity because Fitzgerald created a story that fully captured my attention.
To this day, four year laters, that little blue book is one of my most prized possessions. It sits always within arm’s reach in case I need my Gatsby fix.

The Heavens (A poem by Katie Krulak)

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I turn my eyes up to the sky,
Painted grey and dusky rose,
And in my soul I heave a sigh,
As the golden daylight grows.

The misty blanket melts away,
As dawn lifts its flowing veil,
While birds take flight to sing and play,
Tumbling head over tail.

Journey forward, come and see,
The canopy’s cerulean hue.
Cotton clouds, like lambs run free,
As the sun shines warm and true.

Soft shadows reach and lengthen,
And the light turns orange and gold.
The cool breeze starts to strengthen,
For the day is growing old.

The moon’s rising brings its glow,
Shining ivory in the skies,
Silver starts whirl in the Milky Way’s flow
Reflected in my upturned eyes.

Real People, Real Government (Lauren Hoaglund)

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Over the past few months, I have been overwhelmed and a little annoyed by the amount of political opinions surrounding the new administration. Almost everyone has a complaint about the government and the way it is run. So this semester I decided that it was probably time to get some perspective. I spent three days paging for the Alabama Senate in Montgomery. I was able to see the way our state government runs and the people at the heart of it. I really enjoyed the opportunity to see and listen instead of making blind assumptions with no backing whatsoever. I learned that maybe some of our criticisms of state government are a little too harsh.

I would strongly suggest paging, going to observe some senate sessions, or even just visiting the state house. The few days I spent there opened my eyes to the real issues in our government and the real people trying to address those issues. Now I feel as if I can have an informed and educated conversation with people about the problems in our state government system without just complaining about it.