First a refresher for those who may have forgotten. The Battle of Gonzales was a minor skirmish fought in 1835 between a detachment of cavalry from the Mexican Army and band of Texians from the city of Gonzales which lies about 70 miles east of San Antonio and 70 miles south of Austin. And yes “Texians” is spelled correctly. Texian (with an i) refers to citizens of Texas before it became a part of the United States, more specifically to people who supported Texas independence.
If I said America had an Epicurean side to it, most people would either blink their eyes and fuddle their brows in a vain attempt to understand what I said or let out a collective sigh or a sarcastic exhalation. But I am serious. American has an Epicurean side. And by Epicurean I do not mean the easily lampooned version of Epicureanism which amounts to perpetual and severe over-indulgence. The correct term for that is hedonism. Rather, I mean Epicurean philosophy can be seen as a unifying principle behind several key and seemingly disparate aspects of American society.
For the last 10-20 years, people have been prophesying the death of the college lecture. The caricature of the typical college lecture course has become iconic in the college movies of the last 30 years: large, boring, droning, easily skip-able. To counter this perception, colleges typically market their small class sizes and the discussion basis of their courses. Great Books programs and schools have sprung up all over the place claiming the text as teacher and trying to produce an education simply by reading and discussing. Such a method, it is argued, is how education was intended…and where it is headed again. But before we sound its death knell and throw it overboard, I think it is worth saying that the lecture is not dead. And what proves it: TED talks. Continue reading