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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Plato, Aristotle, and Dr. Lynn Hieronymus


Raphael's The School of Athens features Plato and Aristotle in the center.  The world's great philosophers - still - are said to be debating the universe.  Plato's hand pointing upward to demonstrate his worldview of Universals, while Plato's hand is level to the ground to demonstrate his worldview of Particulars.  They were "big picture" vs. "details" guys.

My favorite professor at Lincoln Christian College, Dr. Lynn Hieronymus (who died much too early of cancer) said in class, "We must always be careful as we seek to interpret the actions and beliefs of others.  For all we know Plato was saying, 'We'll have one pizza to go,' while Aristotle says, 'No, we'll eat it here.'  And perhaps that when their disagreements began."


I miss the thoughtful common sense of people like Doc Hieronymus.

I am in a philosophical mood lately, and this painting always brings me to a point where I think how theory and practice relate to one another.  I'm spending some time listening to EduCon 2.0 and organizing the ways in which tech tools, educational practice, and learning will co-exist over the next year.  While I am a fan of Plato's universal "truths" and theoretical approach to the world, I also live in the real world of Aristotle's particulars. 

In education, the theories change when a educator (usually former educator) is able to sell their answer to their own school boredom to the public marketplace.  They are the Platoes of our generation, so to speak.  The rest of us Aristotlize to make sense of how their ideas would actually work in the particular classrooms and schools.  Until the 2.0 Platoes convince the Aristotles that learning will increase, but more importantly that test scores will surpass Annual Yearly Progress measurements - because that is the Particular in which we all will continue to work in the USA - we will simply be debating that which will not be proven, while our students continue the pattern of educational malaise.

By the way, Dr. Hieronymus also made comment about how little school has changed.  "Just look at those kids not paying attention to the professor (Plato) and then one student (Aristotle) gets all the attention...You just know Aristotle was the teacher's pet. That's probably the only reason we still remember him."  Classic.

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At 12:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, miss Doc Hieronymus. He's my dad. I miss him dearly. Was quite amazed to see your blog come up when I happened to google him. Im glad he's thought of so highly after all these years. He loved LCC and he loved his students. I know, like you, they loved him. Thanks for the kind thoughts.

Kevin Hieronymus

At 8:26 PM, Blogger Kent P. Hieronymus said...

Wow, I thank you for your kind words.
My father was a great passionate man.
I couldn't have asked for a better example. Thank God he was my father and I was able to remember him when fathering my own children. I'm so glad his memory is still alive. I echo my brother's words he loved LCC and especially his students!

Kent Hieronymus


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