to the neglect of other, often deeper, ties and allegiances . . . There is, similarly,
not just one form of possible ‘common culture’. Commonality takes various
forms, and we need to think in terms of degrees of participation in these shared
worlds rather than in terms of simple inclusion or exclusion.” - Stefan Collini,
First, a story . . .
In the summer of 1982, as a sophomore at what was then Elon College, I was
approached by my mentor and English professor, Dr. Andrew Angyal, about signing up for
a class he was starting called “Science and Human Values.” I had no interest in science –
I was, after all, an English major. My interactions with the scientific world had also been
largely unpleasant up to that point in my life. In fact, I still bear a scar on my index finger
from a middle school mishap involving glass tubing and a rubber stopper. As for human
values, I was a bit foggy, with pizza, sleep, and my girlfriend being what I “valued” most.
However, out of a sincere respect for Dr. Angyal and the realization that he could make the
path I was on to becoming a high school English teacher considerably more treacherous, I
signed up for the class. The book list included scientists, naturalists, and philosophers that
I had never heard of – Loren Eiseley, C.P. Snow, Jacob Bronowski, Alfred North
Whitehead, and others. Though I normally enjoyed Dr. Angyal’s classes, I settled into my
desk on a cloudy June morning and prepared for the summer of my discontent.
I was about to again be scarred for life.
Any gifted teacher leaves permanent cognitive marks on his students in the form of
ideas and questions that are grappled with over a lifetime. Often, the learning must be aged
by maturity and experience before the rich, natural hues and textures are evident. Such was