Reason, Hamlet, and Populism, oh my!

Ice Expeditions, Reason, Beethoven, Hamlet, Spanish Terrorist Groups, and Populism, among others, all in one day: this is what Ridgeview’s Humanities Day promises our community. A plethora of topics that exemplify the best of a liberal arts education. Ridgeview describes Humanities Day as its “intellectual homecoming, [which] showcases the kinds of discussions we have every day in class, and offers an opportunity for our community to engage with our faculty as public intellectuals.” Humanities Day clearly achieves the purpose Ridgeview has set out for it; I do not believe anyone could attend one of these lectures or presentations without acknowledging the true value that deep discussions and intellectual pursuits have. I seemed to understand and appreciate the objective of Humanities Day even more this year during Dr. Strauss’s keynote speech on Populism in Ancient Times when I realized that it related not only to my freshman Western Civilization class, but to my Government, American History, American Capstone, and Modern European History classes as well.

Yet what has always stood out to me the most about Humanities Day throughout the years I have been attending is not just how it showcases the manner and content of our education, but the way in which it is presented to us. I have had a multitude of lengthy discussions with fellow students, teachers, and administrators as to how passionate our teachers are about whatever topic they are discussing; the love and interest our teachers hold for their subjects and fields of expertise is truly a gift to students.

The first session I attended at Humanities Day was Mr. Carvalho’s presentation, titled Crisis Leadership: Wiessner and Shackleton’s Lessons from the Ice, in which he discussed how different approaches to mental modeling result in very different forms of leadership in survival situations. While I admired Mr. Carvalho’s extensive knowledge about the topic, I was most impressed by his presentation when I realized how closely it tied into his approach to his various roles at Ridgeview as a teacher and a mentor. Mr. Carvalho’s examination of crisis leadership connected very closely with a number of encounters other students and I have had with him during Ambassador meetings, camping trips, and random discussions.

When I attended Señora de Munsuri’s presentation on ETA and separatist violence in Spain, it was the first time I had ever been in a classroom with Ridgeview’s Spanish and French teacher, and I am so glad that I did. As a disclaimer before her presentation, Señora de Munsuri told her listeners that she had actually deliberately chosen to present on a topic about which she previously had known nothing about. When she said this, I was struck by the fact that not only did she want to teach us about an interesting subject, she herself was passionate about learning something new and conducting large amounts of research so that she could educate both herself and all of her listeners.

This is the epitome of a Ridgeview experience and education: teachers not only interested in teaching, but learning as well, like Señora de Munsuri; teachers who immerse themselves in their fields so much that they practically become encyclopedias like Mr. Herndon; teachers who stand on top of desks and recite epic poetry like Dr. McMahon; and teachers who throw copies of Moby-Dick across classrooms because they become so immersed and invested in the content of their books like Mrs. Calvert.

 

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