Hold It All

Category: Teaching

Another Class Is Finished

Appreciation is the sacrament.
—Allen Ginsberg

Another class is finished…the autumn one entitled
“Facing the Future: Resources for a Rebirth of Wonder”

“Rebirth of wonder” comes from lines in a Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem—
“I am perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder”

I’m not “awaiting” …I’ve experienced rebirth over and over
From the gathering of friends on and beyond Wise Avenue…

Dianne Lee’s commitment to “Whenever we see or think your name, you exist”
Provokes a more ardent anamnesis

Bill Quick’s ever genial receptivity
Models how to be in a learning environment

Chris Wallach’s intimate connection to Dipa Ma
Shows the way for “concentration, lovingkindness and peace”

Sarah Burkemper’s Nerudean ode to the first cucumber of the summer season
Awakens my amazement at the ordinary Read the rest of this entry »

Recent Classes

Bob Dylan Approximately [Summer 2019]

The Essential Edward Said [Summer 2019]

An Introduction to Simone Weil: Concentration Is Consecration [Spring 2019]

Ram Dass and Be Here Now: American Sadhana and the Search for the Real [Winter 2019]

Making the World Bearable: A Reading/A Class on Diane di Prima [Fall 2018]

“What Am I Living My Life for?” Ivan Ilyich and Ikigai [Summer 2018]

Share the Wealth Writing Class [Summer 2018]

Improv Wisdom [Online Spring 2018] Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Priya Sirohi: Find Out Who You Are and Do It On Purpose: On Leaving Academia

I am currently a former SLU grad undertaking her PhD in Rhetoric at Purdue University. I am also in the process of transitioning out of academia and pursuing a job more filled with light and positive people, and less with toxicity.

The subject of my Share the Wealth this weekend is a description of the path I’ve had to walk before realizing the true nature of academic work, and what I do or do not count as valuable labor. The process has led me through tough extremes and equally rewarding self-discovery. I will conclude my presentation with a group writing exercise. Please bring some paper and a writing utensil!

Join us
Sunday 17 February
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Priya begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Marty and Jerry King
830 Demun Avenue, 3rd floor
Clayton, MO 63105

At the End of the Semester

For friends in
Spirituality of Service
& Social Justice classes

I want us to be freer
I don’t want us to be in thrall to guilt

I want us to let our light shine
Why play hide and seek with our soul?

Tomorrow is as far away as Hiroshima
Right now is our permanent mailing address

When you hear the knock
Fling open the door

I want us to give ourselves as much love
As we give our best friend when she’s broken Read the rest of this entry »

A Facebook Message from ‎Thao Truong‎

March 29, 2013

Dear Dr. C, i just had a dream about you and your class last night. I saw that we studied abou Love. You wrote a lot of questions about love on the white board. You asked us, “what is human love???” “How long one person can love another person??” You also had a really interesting question wrote in this format
“because ………… It will take ……. to love you. It will last……… I dont want to……… I want to………… I love you”

You told everyone in class write their own thought in the ……. space, then read it out loud with the reverse format (beginning with i love you….. End with because…..)

It was a really interesting dream. I love it. Maybe i just miss you and your class so much 🙂 You are my best humanity professor ever

Lessons in Teaching by Erin

Erin recently started teaching as an adjunct professor at SLU, and gave me permission to share this.


Teaching has been a very humbling experience. There have been many times I have felt insecure about my abilities as a teacher. My insecurity arises out of a fear of not being good enough. I want so much for my students, and sometimes I want more than I think I can offer.

Don’t be a teacher (or a professor) if you need people to like you–not all of your students will like you.

Don’t be a teacher if you think you know everything,  or do and find out you are wrong.

Don’t be a teacher if don’t like being wrong – there will be many times you will be wrong.

Don’t be a teacher if you enjoy hearing yourself talk – your students should be do the talking, asking questions, teaching one another.

Don’t be a teacher if you enjoy the status quo–your students deserve dynamic environments.

Be a teacher if you care.

Be a teacher if you are good at facilitating a positive learning environment.

Be a teacher if you can provide a variety of perspectives and a variety of learning resources.

Be a teacher if you can admit to not knowing everything.

Be a teacher if you can handle your students knowing or having experienced more than you.

Be a teacher if you understand that your students have a lot to teach you.

Be a teacher if you get excited to see your students learn, if your heart fills with joy when you see that “aha” moment.

Be a teacher if you enjoy learning, especially  if you enjoy that type of learning that never ceases.

Reading List

After recent correspondence with Robert MacArthur, I went back to see the books we read when he took Social Justice with me in the fall of 2005. I must say–I am glad I assigned these!

  1. Riane Eisler, The Power of Partnership
  2. Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down The Bones
  3. Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
  4. James Hodge, Linda Cooper, Disturbing the Peace: The Story of Father Roy Bourgeois and the Movement to Close the School of Americas
  5. Kathy Kelly, Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison
  6. Chan Khong, Learning True Love: How I Learned and Practiced Social Change in Vietnam
  7. Arundhati Roy, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire
  8. Cornel West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism


Reading List

September 18, 2015

Maryville Campus

Maryville University Campus

He Would Have Never Gotten Tenure

The thing is to get under the students’ skin and arouse enough enthusiasm that they get under their own skin.  This means allowing yourself to be yourself in class. My own best teachers were WC Williams, William Burroughs, Gary Snyder, Gregory Corso, and Jack Kerouac. I learned by hanging around with them, from watching their reaction to cars going down the street or a story in the newspaper or TV or a movie image or a sunset or moon eclipse; when you see the intelligence of somebody reacting to the phenomenal world, you learn by imitation. You see beauty and you want to share it.

My best learning was just being myself with them and they giving me permission to be myself and then discovering myself with them – how funny I was. So you’ve got to encourage the student to discover herself and how funny she is and the only way you can do that is by letting yourself be yourself in class which means not teaching, but being there with the students and goofing off with them. The best teaching is done inadvertently.

–adapted from Allen Ginsberg, Spontaneous Mind


Fragments on Teaching & Learning/1

And there was some point as a professor at Stanford and Harvard when I experienced being in some kind of meaningless game in which the students were exquisite at playing the role of students and the faulty were exquisite at playing the role of faculty. I would get up and say what I had read in books and they’d all write it down and give it back as answers on exams but nothing was happening. I felt as if I were in a sound-proof room. Not enough was happening that mattered—that was real.

–Ram Dass, formerly Richard Alpert
Be Here Now


Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, 1960