The first page of the syllabus had rules about how we were going to behave, rules about the classroom. In order to learn we had to build spaces. They were artificial, man-made, they were not natural. Learning is an unnatural act, difficult, not easily done, so we had to be very careful about the space where we’re supposed to learn. And there were rules in order to construct it. The rules were about preserving the classroom both from us and internal-to-the-classroom [factors] and from the things outside of the classroom — our past, the TV, our concerns, our peer pressures and all the rest. So very fragile space and all of us had to be responsible for it. It was not his classroom, it was our classroom, and we were going to take care of it together. And he talked about how one of the first rules was “silence is suspect.” Don’t come here and be silent. You will have something to say, each of you. You will have something to offer. And if you don’t, we’ll find it.

He would talk about how much of your humanity you could bring into the classroom. Of course most of us are listening and not understanding half of this. The lessons of that first day, you know, they’ve been learned over a lifetime. He talked about being prepared and the courtesy of each student to the other. Lack of preparedness meant you were not respectful of the efforts made by others. So you had this kind of a sense of a genuine tenderness, affection for this thing we were going to do together. Grand adventure.