Finished and Unfinished Thinking about Teaching and the Easter Season

“You don’t get it all done. It just ends.” –Gilbert Findlay (CSU professor)

“Start anywhere, and you’ll get it all finished.” –Richard Henze (CSU professor)

 “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” –Ecclesiastes 7:8

“It is not death that a man should fear, but rather he should fear never beginning to live.” –Marcus Aurelius

“Begin with the end in mind.” –Stephen Covey

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.” –Jean-Paul Sartre

“But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep…” –Robert Frost

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” –T.S. Eliot

“Buddha’s Final Words: Strive unceasingly.
Jesus’ Final Words: It is finished.” –Timothy Keller

With a few days to go until spring break, I’m wrapping up another semester/quarter of teaching on a condensed block schedule. I’m once again realizing how difficult endings can be. The theme of endings got me thinking about my experiences with philosophy, spirituality, and the meaning(s) of life.

I’m not sure if it’s harder starting or finishing any given endeavor, especially as far as teaching goes. I like finishing a semester, but I’m sorry to see students go so abruptly. (As the fictional Indiana Jones’ father might say, they leave just when they’re getting interesting!) After spring break, I’ll sprint through another semester-in-a-quarter with a group of students, arriving at the same abrupt ending.

I’m also not sure I have anything more profound to say than what is said in the quotes above. From my undergraduate days at Colorado State University, I remember seeing those quotes from Dr. Henze and Dr. Findlay posted on their office walls: I could tell then that the such comments were insightful and helpful.

As I’ve been thinking through applications of what I’ve been calling mere philosophy for teaching and learning, I’m fascinated by the micro-to-macro (and back again) connections that involve our views of the universe and our places in the universe.

I believe that this Easter season is about something much more profound than what we eat or don’t eat as part of a spiritual observance and personal discipline. One of the greatest English poems, “Death Be Not Proud” captures it well: A deep hope that even such an abrupt end will one day end.

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