A Letter from my Friend Susan to Coach Paterno

Susan Naomi Bernstein, PhD

Stephen Cormany, PhD

November 9, 2011

To the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees:

As alumni of conscience who earned our doctorates in English from the Pennsylvania State University in 1993, we stand in support of firing Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier from their positions before the end of the Fall 2011 semester. The crime of child abuse perpetuates immense consequences for the victim, the victim’s family, and for future generations of the victim’s family. When this crime remains hidden by people who were “just doing their job” or “doing only what the law requires,” the whole of society suffers as well.

Silence not only enables offenders to abuse with impunity, but also demonstrates an inhuman lack of empathy for the victims. All of these factors render conditions for another perfect storm: a catastrophic inattention to the moral and ethical development of current and future generations of Penn State students, not a few of whom identify as victims of abuse, and family and friends of victims.

Some alumni and students may have particularly strong feelings against firing Paterno. We are not unmindful of the potential short-term impact that Paterno’s firing may have on alumni donations and student enrollments. Instead we urge you to consider the long-term benefits, benefits that will outlast media sound bites and alumni threats. By firing Paterno and Spanier both, you would state in no uncertain terms that Penn State does not tolerate crimes against humanity, or the silence that permits such crimes to go unpunished.

Over the long term, such a stance would provide the encouragement for the growth of enrollment and donations, and also would lend confidence to faculty and graduate students that regard human rights as integral to their research agendas and inseparable from the values of teaching and learning that they hope to pass on to students.

In this new century and new decade, Penn State has a significant opportunity to restore the values of ethical and moral reason that guided us in our own studies at University Park so long ago. For the sake of renewing the Penn State mission and creating innovations for future generations to grow and learn, we appeal to you to in to act in good faith and to fire Joe Paterno and Graham Spanier as a consequence of their inactions and their silence.

Thank you for your kind attention to our concerns.

Sincerely,

Susan Naomi Bernstein, PhD

English 1993

Stephen Cormany, PhD

English 1993

(I met Susan at Northern Illinois University in 2010.  She is one of the sweetest individual I have come across in higher education.)

Strangers Live Inside

Well, hello, long time no see. I would say so,

Where have you been spending your time? Here and there, working at the school…

(The Tao is an inescapable torch that does not burn.)

The early morning possess supernatural powers. I absorbed the darkness in the winter and spread the sunlight in spring. How does one find himself in himself? How do you begin a journey on a road that has ended? I love being in a transit state of nothingness…where I walk in silence and stillness. I struggle to explain the concept and thus I mumble incomprehensible with text.

I love text in many forms written, verbal, or imagination. However, mostly; I love text alone deep within the bottomless pit of reflection. I do not want to argue or develop discourse where it’s rejected nor considered. No, my superpowers are not great at all, in fact; one would not even notice my presence without a shout. I live and die daily within a formless world as I assess my evolution to my originality. Does this make sense? I think it does, surly a kindergartener understand the quest for eternal play.

What type of musing is this? I don’t know. I discovered it while asleep as I was awake. By the way, I think a quest is not about discovery as much as, wait a second…I had a thought. “Anyhows”, (Yes, a phrase used in many cultures) damnit…, I lost my thought again. Hmm, I was going somewhere but without failure I’ve arrived. How does one find what is not missing? I’ve tried several times to leave the Tao behind.

Will life be defined? No, I think not, only the individuals who need form to explain the unexplainable remains searching.

Hey where have you been, long time no see.  I would say so,

(All grammatical errors are purposeful)

The Invisible Dragon

Taoism & Higher Learning

TaoismI dislike higher learning, yes at this present moment, it’s unsettling. Higher education is an organization for academic achievement of advanced thought through research. It also is an environment where all meaningful thinking originated with humans, specifically White men. This essay is not about race but the (perceived) disconnection from Taoism by the author.  I have become the unconscionable ringmaster of a circus.

The pattern of higher learning is not complex, “smart individuals theorized propositions and as a result of their scientific examination results you must listen to them”. More important, opinions are not valid and only receive legitimacy if past scholars or research are acknowledged. As such, higher learning does not nurture creativity or ‘outside the box’ thinking however strict obedience to the scientific method and notable scholars are prerequisites.

For instance, neither Socrates nor the Greeks are the founders of philosophy and higher thought. Sadly, this premise begin an academic career in adult education.

Run Boy!!!

This is one disconnect as there are others, higher education is as systematically dysfunctional as secondary schools. Paulo Freire speaks about the ‘banking model’ where learning institutions educate peasants to accept the social order; this is a norm in higher education classrooms. Adult learning is restricted by 16 weeks; time not learning dictates the cemented curriculum.

In truth, syllables in research (NIU) universities where professors combat to become leaders in their fields or tenured are cemented with identical talking points yearly. Knowledge it seems is stagnant in all social contexts. As a result, adult learners receive an educational template to help fill corporate payrolls that sadly no longer exist. Worse, the author abandoned Tao to hopefully relish and prospers in this pseudo existence.

***

“Truth is a necessity if you’re ever going

to live in harmony with spirit

and become a source of inspiration for the people

you encounter.” Dr. Wayne Dwyer

***

Non-Action

Yes, the Dragon walked away in theory unaware that without ‘The Way’ you spin in circles. At any rate, college became an empty dwelling only useful in as too retrieve rote memorization for test results. Also, social contacts are because of fear and superficial expectations of the writer became fuzzy. However this is not an indictment on individuals (i.e., professors, administrators, students) the author count as friends. In brief, this summary exists only because of the author’s thoughts of the unknown.

The college classroom, writing papers, or speaking at conferences does not resemble dreams of peace and tranquility for me. On the contrary, I love to coach, teach, and live Tao. I love to awake to ambient music as early as 4.30AM, read, and remain still for eternity. The Dragon crave to work for individuals that exhume his passion: male adolescents and adult readers. Nevertheless, the most important trait I possess is that of awareness and as a result, I do not want to waste time.

Working for the Tao is effortless because time does not exist.

***

The Invisible Dragon

Should We Fight the Power?

I am concluding my masters’ degree requirements this summer and I thought to include some conversations from our online sections.

Rebecca and I are classmates in a final course for my Ms.Ed., this summer.  I thought it would be cool to blog some of our discussions.  I respect Rebecca’s intuitiveness and her willingness to challenge status quo.  She has been involved with marginalized groups (e.g., Blacks, women, Latinos) learning education for some time in her professional career.  In fact, we are both reading instructors in the College Learning Enhancement Program (CLEP) at Northern Illinois University. The class is Nature of Adult and Higher Education and is guided by Dr. Karen Haley,

(Robert) The assumptions of postmodernism (e.g., Multicultural, learning-centered, informal experiences) considering gender and racial statuses are attractive as teaching modules.  While I do not see learners as agents for social change, I do however value collaborative learning for the non-majority members, specifically African-American males.  The tenet of ‘Caring’ is extremely important to marginalized groups in higher education.  I find this principle in line with my belief in Humanism and culturally responsive teaching curriculum.  Thus, each component together along with other variables (e.g., self-directed learning, self-actualization, and resiliency) provides a more Holistic learning experience for college-aged Black males.

(Rebecca) Hi Rob. Do you really not see learners as agents for change? You’ve spoken often about changing the landscape of education for African-American males, surely your approach is empowering and does have the potential to bring about change. I think all students are agents for change. Every life we touch brings about change!

(Robert) Dr. Vaughn (To Be) I knew this would stir your hornet’s nest.

I believe students should choose their paths and not follow a pre-package societal bucket list.  In other words, if one chooses to help create social change through teaching that’s fine, I am on such a path.  Nevertheless, I am not leading or suggesting every adult should follow my journey.  The philosophy that “All” students should aspire___________ (Fill in the blank) creates followers not leaders.  New Flash!!! You Should Be Who You Are!!!

Social change is just that social.  If a movement arises and one feels the urge to make a different I commend them.  However, African-American males are responsible for their conscious transformation first and foremost.  If they decide to involve themselves in a mass incarceration anti-movement for example that’s great, if not, that’s great also.  No person has the right to judge one by their civic, gender, or racial advocacies or non-involvement thereof.  (Although I find myself during this more than I would admit)  My teaching philosophy encourages self-actualization not a ‘Drum Beat’ of my definition of a life worth living.  In fact: No one shall submit an outline of life’s activities as a precursor to cultural and social standards.

If you sit alone upon a rock…you are there

If you rail for social justice…you are there

You are who you could have become thus

potentials aren’t worth a damn

Life Exist With or Without You

Be Yourself….

cheers,