Peripatetic: walking around. The word actually seems to refer to Aristotle’s method of teaching, walking around the Lyceum, students literally following. It was perhaps Jesus’s way, too. Is it one that is valuable for itself, something a teacher or prophet today should consider?

One thing I see is that there is more to see, more to run into, more than concrete block walls and blackboards can present. Those are designed for concentration, especially upon ideas, concepts, mental constructs and frameworks. Walking around engages the eyes, the body, the ears, the nose, the skin. Walking around engages living things, inanimate things, people and ideas. Ideas flow from the engaged.

Ideas flow from the engaged.

Ideas flow from the engaged.

Engaging teaches us how to engage, here and now. Engaging teaches us about a wider world, and to always be looking for a wider outlook, a larger world.

What would be the manner of peripatetic teaching? “In the first place” made it easy for Aristotle to remember his lesson outline, attaching point A to this tree, point B to that flower on the covered walkway. It is an old memory crutch. The teacher, Rumi-like, can see what is going on in the bazaar and search that for its learning and lessons. The teacher, Jesus-like, can hear in the story of a fisherman or a widow the voice of the Father. The teacher, Gautama-like, can find a Bodhi tree to sit under. The teacher can interact with those he or she meets, assist those in need, guide others, confront some.

We live a peripatetic life style, driving all over, but still meeting people in shops (bazaars), at sporting and rock-n-roll events (lycea), in the hallways (dusty footpaths). We can still, if we look, see wild and growing things–the weeds in the sidewalks and the trees along the way and the birds and squirrels and deer who look at us, some out of the night. We can touch something larger in the starry skies and even in the grey skies. We can engage in the coffee breaks and self-organized small groups (how radical these can be!). We can have a world rich in persons and life.

We can be engaged.

Life flows from the engaged.

That is what peripatetic teaching is about. I like the rhythm of the word. Especially I like that it suggests meeting.

Life flows from engaging.

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on October 8th, 2005 | No Comments »

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