Year's End Cultivation Drive
Samuel & Erasmus institute
"...there are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are are those who turn one into the other." ~ Erasmus
A heartfelt thank you to all who have engaged in activities, volunteered their time and talents, and offered their homes and personal "treasure"--to all, seen and unseen, who have made and continue to make the dream of SEi possible.
From its deepest form, to the details and way of any event, SEi is an educational endeavor of we. Because of that we and our strategic vision, SEi has been able to move like a school without bricks or walls--like strong spreading roots that carry sources of life and renewal, but are not always seen (and do not need to be seen).
Drawing from the living tradition of the liberal arts and Renaissance Christian humanism, and especially by impacting those who impact others, we have had profound affects on students, educators, and institutions.
We have deeply resonated with youth and young educational leaders, and are preparing to double our groups by the end of the academic year. And because of our strategic focus on educators-- who can lead other groups--and on high school students--who will form groups in their various colleges--we expect to at least double our groups every two years. (We should have over 40 groups throughout the country within 4 years).
On behalf of all of us working to cultivate this adventure, we are deeply grateful for the past and present support, and dare to humbly request your continued generosity for our future. There is much work to do!
I always leave inspired.
~ Noah (college student at University of Texas, Austin)
SEi has transformed my approach to the liberal arts – and in a larger sense to the world...
...from seeing it as a puzzle to be put together to something that must be beheld and contemplated continually. Many times I enter an exploration of a work of art or an idea or a virtue with the thought that I already have the answer, the formula, but quickly find that there is always so much more to engage in and reconsider. I realized that ideas cannot be simply put away in a tool box but should be tuned and played upon through conversations, and, at best, with friends...
Throughout high school, SEi events have given me the opportunity to relax in an activity outside of routine that is subtly more important than my routine activities. I venture to say that a SEi group will not only thrive at the school I will attend next year, Princeton University, but also have a great impact in fostering a more meaningful culture...
~ Miguel (high school senior, attending Princeton University in the fall)
We need to rethink our educational ways and means. This means we need to rethink, explore, contemplate our vision of reality and of the person. This vision or understanding should inform the details, connect the dots of our educational ways and means.
When we face a serious challenge or a crisis, we naturally return to our sources: friends, family, core beliefs, memories, and those things that bring healing and possibly new life. There have been many educational efforts to return to sources. But we often forget to return to the ways of the sources, which are arguably as important as the sources (or at least vital to get to the sources).
Philosophy began with difficult but important questions that every generation (and every person) must ask. What is justice? What is freedom? Is there meaning to suffering, to beauty, to love, to my life? What is truth, etc.? And philosophy (meaning the love of wisdom) began with dynamic conversations not memorization and lectures, and with friends who gathered, longed for wisdom and its liberation, and sought to courageously find it (even if it brought suffering).
The revolution of Christianity began with small groups of intimate friends who had to go through quite a process in order to be receptive to the joy, strength, and light of Pentecost's fire, and to then go forth. Furthermore, the teaching ways of the Master were puzzling and not typical of the way religion or ethics are commonly taught. He employed paradox, stories, striking images, clever turns of phrase, personal challenges, and sometimes mystifying ways. He was tuned to dispositions, and discovery, and not to just knowing the terms. He found ways of speaking to the heart that all types of people could understand, and be inspired by.
The SEI educators group helped me immensely during my first year of teaching...it gave new excitement to reenter the classroom, to treat its difficulties as sporting challenges, and to share the joy and wisdom of the liberal arts with a new generation of students.
This unique blend of learning mingled with good friendship is something any teacher needs to help perfect his or her craft, or really any person needs regardless of particular craft, for this art and community will develop and deepen one's experience of reality. I certainly felt this with SEI, though it is something hard to explain, and probably needs to be experienced or felt to be believed--so I would highly recommend the events to anyone interested and willing to grow in anything remotely, or deeply, human.
~ Thomas (teacher and assistant theatre director)
That summer meeting was the greatest night of my life.
~ Peter (recent graduate of the University of Maryland, attending medical school next year)
Not dead as critics call it (or like the static way some approach it), the Renaissance Christian Humanist tradition teems with insight, humor, and wisdom that defy easy or polarizing categories. It is alive with the human questions that never fade away and with insights that always have to be found anew.
Both, the teaching ways of Socrates and of Christ, point to artful ways that challenge, give space for risks and mistakes, include the element of trust and friendship, and encourage to personally discover, to see or apprehend with heart and mind. Such ways, especially important for the humanities and the most important questions of life, require teachers to learn do and disappear arts. These demanding, artful ways require more leading from behind or the side than from the front, more asking questions and challenging minds to expand and to search and to make one's own, than telling them what they're supposed to think.
Inspiration is not a thing of the past. Truth, Beauty, Goodness--these are not like precious rocks to be polished, possessed, and passed on like a "show and tell" exercise. They are living, transcendent (even eternal) things that are more like a mysterious fire (or burning bush) than like precious gold. (And they elude any kind of covetous possession). When beheld and receptively engaged, they transform, liberate, in spire.
To allow a student to explore what is in front of him and to begin a journey toward truth is a mark of how I teach now, and one that I owe to SEi.
SEi has had a profound impact on me as an educator. The focuses on open conversation and deep friendship have rekindled my desire to know, my desire to apprehend truth and my desire to expand my understanding of humanity.
~ Patrick (teacher, leads a high school jazz band, boys choir, and lower school theatre productions)
SEi is a federal 501 (c) (3) tax exempt public charity. Donations are tax deductible.
...the meetings feel almost like short intellectual retreats...I have begun to include SEI-type readings and discussions in my weekly meetings with our faculty, and have a clearer idea of how to guide teachers.
When I began with SEI, I knew that it would be a fantastic means of forwarding my own personal education. What I did not expect was the joy and rejuvenation that these meetings have produced—the meetings feel almost like short intellectual retreats...I have begun to include SEI-type readings and discussions in my weekly meetings with our faculty, and have a clearer idea of how to guide teachers. I realized how important it was to bring the liberal arts more fully to life at the school.
~ Colin (teacher, varsity soccer coach, and school administrator)