Life-Changing Y1 Seminar Lectures?

Ifeoluwa Aiyelabowo, ’15

The Y1 Seminar lectures are monthly talks in the auditorium given by Seminar teachers and guest speakers, on topics branching off from what we learn in class. Topics that are introduced during Seminar lectures are normally philosophical, but sometimes seem useless because they are so diluted in metaphysical and historical points that the evidence that we could use to prove these points is scarce. During the Seminar lectures, many of us ask ourselves, “Why in the name of God am I here in a crowded auditorium listening to someone talking about something that is of almost no importance to me?” To answer this question, I analyzed Dr. Bruce Matthew’s seminar lecture on Plato.

According to an anonymous BHSEC student, “[Seminar lectures are] not really that interesting. I’ve been in Matthews for two years now so that lecture this week was really repetitive for me. And in general I think that they’re informative, but nothing that couldn’t be said in actual Seminar.” Most of us agree with this person, but we go to the lectures anyway because it is expected of us.

Even though they are not necessarily interesting, Seminar lectures can greatly impact our academic lives. After much analysis of the last Seminar lecture, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of these lectures is to teach teenagers about their lives, who they are, and how they can improve themselves. The majority of students, however, do not interpret these talks as life changing.

Dr. Matthews’ most recent lecture was titled “Plato’s Retreat: The Allegory of the Cave, Digitalized.” In this lecture, Dr. Matthews spoke about Socrates and Plato, whom he somewhat jokingly referred to as “Platocrates.” Towards the beginning of the lecture, Dr. Matthews discussed the fact that Socrates did not like writing his ideas down. The Greek philosopher was quoted as saying, “Writing is a techne that weakens knowledge.” For these philosophers, knowledge was not something that one should write down, but something one should learn and apply. This idea can help all students, as it teaches us that we are not learning unless we can apply our knowledge to the assignments and tests we are given. Is this a thought that all students think while listening to Dean’s Hour lectures? No! But is this not a belief that we should all hold, and something that students should think about during Dean’s Hours lectures? Yes! We students need to understand that if we really know something, we should be able to apply it. If we don’t, then we will not be able to apply the teachings that we are given to better our lives and the world.

Students should use this lesson from Dr. Matthews’ lecture to understand that one only has knowledge if one can apply a given concept, not just write it down. Many BHSEC students are faced with a lot of pressure to do well academically, so they study a lot, but they do not do as well as they want. Platocrates’ belief of knowing by applying can help all of us in this situation. As Ms. Caldaro once said, “You cannot learn to run without running, and you cannot learn to swim without swimming.”

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