Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

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Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

SteveBrandon
Administrator
This week's discussion on the forum will focus on Emerson's "The American Scholar."  In specific, I'll ask you to discuss Emerson's call for a uniquely American scholar.

It's been almost 175 years since Emerson delivered the speech which was to become known as "The American Scholar."  The speech has been called America's intellectual "Declaration of Independence."  In it, Emerson called on Americans to develop a distinct vision of what it means to be an American.  He wanted us to reject old, outdated ideas and not to parrot others thinking.  He wanted us to learn to think as our best selves.  He wanted us to learn how to relate fully to Nature, others in the past, and--most important--to learn how to live and do useful work in society and the now.  He saw all Americans becoming fully "Men," fully awake to all experience, and fully able "to cheer, to raise, and to guide...by showing...facts amidst appearance."  

Here are the questions to discuss this week:

Has your education lived up to Emerson's vision, that is, have you been taught to be "An American Scholar" in the sense Emerson means? No bashing the system here.  Emerson wasn't about living in the past.  Read the essay.  He was about knowing your best self and making yourself into this best self, so you can fully act in the now.  

If your education falls short of Emerson's ideal, what can you do to reform your education and your self?  Is Emerson's an ideal you wish to follow?  Why or why not?  How can this class help or hinder?

[Note: I have noticed that many students are only participating in the class discussion once a week.  Please note that this isn't sufficent for full create for class particiaption.  The assumption is that you'll participate in discussion several times a week and/or followup on what has been said in the discussion.  Posting your initial take on the questions is only the first step in having a "discussion."]
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

aws2719
As Emerson had said, "He must be university of knowledge (HB 1745)."  I think what he's saying here is that man should try and be as knowledgeable as possible.  You should always keep learning and reading new things and new ideas about the world we live in.  I do feel like the school system tries to teach us this idea of Emerson's.  It is very important that we learn as much as possible in schools before we go out into the real world.  

Emerson is very dedicated to applying that Man is everything and the world shouldn't matter, it only interferes with your life and success.  I think that my education is different from what Emerson wants.  Today, civilization is worried about making successful decisions that help the world than to help out you.  I believe that both ideas of helping the world and helping yourself equals out to each other.  So, I'm kind of in the middle of what Emerson's ideas are about.  The quote, "If there be one lesson more than another, which would pierce his ear, it is, the world is nothing, the man is all; in yourself is the law of all nature, and you know not yet how a globule of sap ascends; in yourself slumbers the whole of Reason; it is for you to know all, it is for you to dare all (HB 1745)", I believe Emerson makes a good point in that Man should test out his skills and try to make him above all.  I somewhat believe this, I think that helping out the world is as equally important as becoming all you can be.

I think reading about Emerson will help me out in understanding important ideas about life and will help me with my education in understanding complex thoughts.    
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Erin Edwards
In reply to this post by SteveBrandon
Emerson says in his writing The American Scholar “The scholar is he of all men whom this spectacle engages (HB 1735)”.  I believe what Emerson is trying to say is that all men need to engage in everything and every moment possible. You should always keep your mind and your heart open to new and different things.
I do not feel at this point that my education has not lived up to Emerson’s vision, however, that is not because of the school system. It is because I have not allowed myself to fully engage learning and listening to what I have been taught. I feel the school system does a great job at trying to live up to Emerson’s vision.
I feel that since I know how I have been during the past as far as my education is concerned will truly help me in me getting the best out of my education further down the road. Emerson says “The next great influence into the spirit of the scholar, is, the mind of the past (HB 1736)”.   I really truly feel that I understand what Emerson is attempting to say through this quote and I truly want to make the best of my education since I have not done so thus far.
I believe that reading Emerson’s work will help me to understand the difficulties that life can show us throughout our entire life. I look forward to learning more about Emerson as my educations carries on.  
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Kelsey Glasco
In reply to this post by SteveBrandon
I think that I have been taught to be "An American Scholar".  All of the people in my life have taught me what it means to be ones best self.  Recently, I have decided that I have been living too much in the past, and now it is time for me to start living for my future.  I really like the way that Emerson thinks because that is how everyone should look at themselves and their lives.  If you do not strive to be your best self then what is the point of living period?  We all want people to accept us, but in a way that pleases ourselves.  If we are proud of who we are, then other people will be too.  This class has helped me to become the best version of myself because I think that the assignments make me think about what I really want out of my life.  I like how the writing assignments relate to me personally because it makes it more fun and it is a lot easier to write 750 words about yourself than it is to just talk about the reading for the whole essay.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Sharice Morris
In reply to this post by SteveBrandon
Reading this really open my eyes to realize that I wasn't taking in the stuff that I have been learning. I usually just remember it long enough to pass the test then I forget about it. Im now going to take the knowledge and carry it with me for years to come. I haven't let myself become a American Scholar. I was taught to be one but I didnt allow myself to fully learn and understand the stuff so that I could apply it to life one day. So I took for granted a lot of things that I was taught. Im now going to use the knowledge that I learned from reading this to help me become my best self.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Jeromy Jones
In reply to this post by SteveBrandon
I believe that our current educations system does strive to achieve what Emerson was talking about in his "The American Scholar." Many of us do not realize why we are taking all of the classes we are required to take whole going through school. We complain, "When am I ever going to use this," but the idea you have the knowledge were you to ever need it. We are given a multitude of classes, each of a different subject ranging from everything from math to civics. People should have the knowledge of the many facets of life, and by our school systems offering these many different classes we have the opportunity to do that. That being said, it is not very often that many students find themselves quite as captivated in what they are learning as what I believe Emerson that we should be. Upon leaving the school building the typical student is probably not going home to open a book and further their studies, watch financial news to keep up with the business world, or watch the political news to know what is going on with their country. Emerson said "he who puts forth his total strength in fit actions, has the richest return of wisdom." I think what he is trying to say is that after learning something, it is the people who choose to apply and further that knowledge who truly gain from it. Unfortunately, I do not feel that our school system truly prepares students for this. Generally, teachers are focused on giving their students the knowledge needed to pass a test, and not really have to use it prior to testing. To truly be the "American Scholar" that Emerson was talking about, it is not merely enough to learn something; being able to apply that knowledge in the real world is the true test.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Michelle Herndon
I agree with your take on Emerson's "The American Scholar". I believe that the classes provided, regardless, are forms of information we would otherwise not learn if we did not attend school. Along with that, the common complaining of "when will we need to know this" can actually be answered. New information is found everyday, knowing the old information and passed events can help us understand the now and what could be in the future. It's like the saying "the past repeats itself." This could be prevented with the knowledge of these classes many students take for granted. I enjoyed how you pointed out that most teachers plan to prepare their students to past test, usually without applying the information to everyday experiences or in other forms to full get a grasp on its importance.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Michelle Herndon
In reply to this post by Sharice Morris
I agree with you! I will admit, I have been one of those students who says, "when am I ever going to need to know this!." Emerson has definitely opened my eyes to education and what I should be getting from it. I too need to apply myself more, to truly understand the importance of my education.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Rachel Crosby
In reply to this post by SteveBrandon
I do not feel that i am being taught to live up to Emerson's 'American Scholar.' I feel often times I am being required to regurgitate what i have read and don't need to really think about what I read and am not reuired to use what I have read to come up with my own ideas. I feel that I am ofen times required to agree with how to teacher views what I have just read. I feel that what I ave read this week will help me become more like Emerison's American Scholar becuase it has made e think about how important it is to trust myself and stop going along with what others think about life. I feel that this class will help me become more like the American Scholar becuase it causes me to think about what I have read and not just recite what I have read It lets me trust my own opinions about what the work that we read said to me and not only what it said to the teacher.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Rachel Crosby
In reply to this post by Michelle Herndon
Michelle, I also am guilty of saying 'when will I ever need this.' Emersons work has helped me see how we should be learning as much as possible from past experiences so that we do not repeat them.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Rachel Crosby
In reply to this post by Sharice Morris
Sharice, I also have learned to truly take in what I am learning instead of only keepin it in my head to past a test. There is so much more to truly learning something rather than to just taking a test. We should be aking in as much as possible to try and become our best selves.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Michelle Herndon
In reply to this post by SteveBrandon
Emerson states in The American Scholar, “the scholar is that man who must take up into himself all the ability of the time, all the contributions of the past, all the hopes of the future.” I believe Emerson is trying to imply that man should be open to all aspects of life at any given time. Man should use their creativity and knowledge of past, present, and future to better understand the world and in order to make precise valuable decisions. Emerson believes we should be enthusiastic about learning and be open to all information, because with information comes wisdom. The more information we know the easier it is to live reliantly and possible for you to create your own opinions based on facts and historic events, not the opinions or thoughts of others. I have always been fond of the school system. I believe they have put in great efforts to help the inventors and successors of tomorrow. I think the students are the issue. I think some parts of society are getting more lazy and with technology expanding people are doing less work. Kids are going to school being more worried about what they are wearing rather than excited about learning new concepts and ideas, facts and events. Students tend to focus on the information solely to pass a test, then that information is lost or forgotten. Emerson would rather that information be used or applied. Emerson does not want us to dwell on the past but to use it at our advantage. We can learn from our mistakes! Emerson’s essay has opened my eyes to my own life, in that I sometimes take for granted the education I am provided. I should be engaged and curious to all information. This class has surely helped me. The information and readings we have gone over have given insight on how I can better myself. The class has opened my eyes to new aspects of life I otherwise would have missed out on.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Alex Chenault
In reply to this post by SteveBrandon
Thus far my education has lived up to Emerson’s vision. Throughout high school and throughout the college I have completed I have always put forth my best effort. I enjoy learning very much and I want to get as much out of my education as I possibly can because it will carry me through the rest of my life. It is very important for me to have a good job to support my future family so that I can always provide for them what they need and things they want as well. I think it is every man’s dream to provide things for his family that his parents couldn’t give to him. There are a couple of things I would like to reform when it comes to my education. Although I always put forth my best effort, I do procrastinate at times. Rarely my work will build up on me and cause me stress but I manage to get it done. Reform for me would come in that area so that I can do my assignments piece by piece instead of in one large clump. I don’t really want to follow Emerson’s ideal and he wouldn’t want me to either. He doesn’t want anyone to follow anyone so I have my own ideals about my education and my life so I will stick to them and no one else’s. This class helps me to get into the habit of spreading out my work. Because there is so much to do for each week it would be impossible to do it all in one day so hopefully this class will create a habit so that I spread out assignments in all of my classes instead of just most. Perhaps if I create this habit my best will become better.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Emmanuel Ihejirika
In reply to this post by SteveBrandon
I believe that my education has lived up to Emerson's ideals of "The American Scholar" to an extent. Ultimately it is up to the individual to achieve and set his/her own goals to attain greatness. The assimilation of knowledge, higher education and understanding, are reached at different levels based on the individual. In that aspect, our American culture today has an education system in place from which we are given the resources to become successful and wise to our procurement. Has my education been influenced by Emerson's ideals? Until now, no- for the most part. I think that that would have to do with encouragement. School has been more about doing what it takes to pass and obtain credentials to be a success more than the encouragement to actually realize potential. My education was more conveyed in situations where I was self-reliant for encouragement. For the most part, I have had to find my own way and through my ambitions cultivate an American scholar. Though there have been a few notable guides, such in this class, that have aroused that awareness. A valuable lesson in itself that is not conventional in our education system today. Irregardless it is the person within who determines the ability. In the words of Emerson, "There is a time in every mans education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that through the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishment corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till" (Heath, 1741).    
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Almira Dedic
In reply to this post by SteveBrandon
I think reading about Emerson will help me out in understanding important ideas about life and will help me with my education.   Most of the information we learn is information we will need at some point in our life but there is also information we will never need. Now days where technology has enhanced a lot and it is enhancing every day, it is very important for everyone to continue get educated to stay on top of everything that is going on.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Thiago Ogibowski
In reply to this post by SteveBrandon
I believe that my parents introduced me to the thoughts of how to be “An American Scholar” a long time ago and I didn’t realized that they were right. As a matter of fact, every teacher that I had, every book that I read fed this flame of knowledge that stays inside of our mind. However, for a reason that I don’t know seems that I didn’t really keep this light inside of me for too long. In fact, I tend to get overwhelmed and consequently frustrated with all the work. Indeed, I tend to give up on being an American Scholar very fast. As result, I content myself in being a B student instead of keeping up with the work to be an A student. After reading Emerson’s speech it gave strength to not give up and spend more time doing my homework and putting more effort on my studies. Emerson’s ideals are definitely the same ideals that my parents always taught me and I wish to follow it through from now on.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Alex Chenault
In reply to this post by Rachel Crosby
I am also guilty of doing that. I took calculus one semester and to be quite honest I don't see myself ever using it unless I am going to be a calculus teacher. HaHa.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Alex Chenault
In reply to this post by Kelsey Glasco
I think our parents have a lot to do with our efforts on striving for excellence. I can say first hand if I ever got anything lower than a B I wouldn't see daylight for quite sometime. I think that that helps me to strive to do my best all of the time.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Kelsey Glasco
In reply to this post by Emmanuel Ihejirika
Emmanuel -

I agree with you.  I do not feel like up to this point we have been living up to what Emerson believes an "American Scholar" is.  In school, I have always been spoon fed the information and then a week later I just forget about it.  How are we supposed to learn anything if the teachers are always giving us the answers and not making us think for ourselves?  Until I started the homework in this class, I never really had to think and use my resources.  This class is a good example of what Emerson is talking about when he describes what an "American Scholar" is.
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Re: Discussion Week Five: Creating an American Scholar

Erin Edwards
Kelsey- I agree that this class is a good way to really experience the "American Scholar". I really enjoy how this class really gets us thinking about real life issues and gets us to think about what we want and strive to be every day.
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