To the Professional Student

(lecture 1)

Students have more an opportunity for true Happiness and Freedom than other people.  Why?  Because  they’re there to explore.  In the classroom, in the library, storming brain in a Composition Book.  They’re there for their own growth.  True Onus and Opportunity.  When they read a book, they make that story their own.  When writing a reaction to a text, they make the reaction their own, as it is their own ideas that more than anything matter.  The only reality that controls is them and their thought.  Reading, serious reading, not necessarily “academic” reading but yes in the academic and student context, necessitates a supreme ownership of the student’s role.  You are there to learn, yes, but oftentimes as I’ve so much over my ten years of teaching stressed: “You are your strongest and best teacher.” The student needs to take control of their world, their studies and writings, if ever they hope to taste a materialized Happiness, and Freedom.

How you get there?  Stay in the chair.  And it’s more than mere “active reading”, or being a practicing marginalia-jotter.  It’s understanding where you are as a student, and what you’re shooting for.  Where you see yourself down the Road.  What you want from your studies.  And this goes beyond what your instructor lectures and instructs.  Of course, their role matters, but it’s what you do with what’s offered that matters even more.  How you react to his or her words, lessons.  You build the bridge yourself, pave the Road, dig our the tunnel, to get to where you see yourself.  Where you’ll taste Happiness and Freedom.

Pen, paper, feeling the writing.  Typing is part of being a student, but I’ve always advocated writing with ink, not pencil, prior to touching a keyboard’s little squares or circles.  There’s an intimacy to ink that there isn’t with pencil, or typing.  This may seem like a tangent or turbulent transition in my argument, but it’s not.  If you miswrite a word, or make some mistake, you’ll cross or scribble it out, writing above the error, or to the right, or below, still seeing your mistake.  Mistakes in student life should be more radically embraced than the successes!  You should see them, be reminded of them, see the process for what it is and it alway assures, errors in the lengthy trial of studentdom.  This is the opportunity of being a student.  Not to sound trite or too rehearsed, but it’s the most ringing invitation to grow one’s self, to be Mentally Alive, as Malcolm X said in ‘Prison Studies’.  He also shared how it was his own self that served as his more prophetic and proverbial teacher.  You, like him, can free yourself with your effort.

The student can only look to themselves for goal attainment, Happiness and Freedom.  Don’t let yourself leave that seat!  Stay a-scribble, don’t stop envisioning your visions.  If you’re connected to your writings, readings, student life, it’ll be work that teaches you; you’ll fly; you’ll be too far above any stresses or miseries to be stressed or miserable.  The journey may hurt— hell, it will at times—but the hurt’s coin has an opposite side that heals.  The Onus and control is always ours.  Let the ink soak the page till you in it wade.