important words for college students

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definitions & notes only words
  1. evaluative
    exercising or involving careful appraisals
    You are, as Foucault might say, the intersection of many evaluative and potentially determining discourses: you boy, you girl, have been made.
  2. cartographer
    a person who makes maps
    Never has there been a more shrewd and imaginative cartographer of the psyche.
  3. discomfit
    cause to lose one's composure
    I was, you might say, discomfited, and showed up to class for a while with my cellphone jiggered to dial 911 with one touch.
  4. psyche
    that which is responsible for one's thoughts and feelings
    Never has there been a more shrewd and imaginative cartographer of the psyche.
  5. prognosticate
    make a prediction about; tell in advance
    And all of those teachers and counselors and friends—and the prognosticating uncles, the dithering aunts, the fathers and mothers with their hopes for your fulfillment—or their fulfillment in you—should not necessarily be cast aside or ignored.
  6. winnow
    the act of separating grain from chaff
    The battle is to make such writers one’s own, to winnow them out and to find their essential truths.
  7. embed
    fix or set securely or deeply
    Embedded in all of the major religions are profound truths.
  8. provenance
    where something originated or was nurtured
    They have confronted you with scriptures—holy books that, whatever their actual provenance, have given people what they feel to be wisdom for thousands of years.
  9. amok
    wildly; without self-control
    The Internet is amok with services selling term papers and those services exist, capitalism being what it is, because people purchase the papers—lots of them.
  10. relegate
    assign to a lower position
    The coach knows what your athletic prospects are, the guidance office has a sheaf of test scores that relegate you to this or that ability quadrant, and your teachers have got you pegged.
  11. leery
    openly distrustful and unwilling to confide
    Colleges are even leery of disciplining guys who have committed sexual assault, or assault plain and simple.
  12. detach
    cause to become separated
    At the time I found his remark a tad detached, but maybe he was right.
  13. cornucopia
    a horn filled with fruit and grain symbolizing prosperity
    Society has a cornucopia of resources to encourage you in doing what society needs done but that you don’t much like doing and are not cut out to do.
  14. protract
    lengthen in time; cause to be or last longer
    They’ve given you a sharp and protracted taste of what they feel is good and bad, right and wrong.
  15. indenture
    formal agreement as to terms of a debt
    Then there are those back-breaking student loans—people leave school as servants, indentured to pay massive bills, so that first job better be a good one.
  16. academia
    the world of higher learning
    The people who do this work have highly developed intellectual powers, and they push themselves hard to reach a certain standard: That the results have almost no practical relevance to the students, the public, or even, frequently, to other scholars is a central element in the tragicomedy that is often academia.
  17. disgorge
    eject the contents of the stomach through the mouth
    Black limousines pulled up in front of his office and disgorged decorously suited negotiators.
  18. ethos
    the distinctive spirit of a culture or an era
    As far as I can discern, the student ethos goes like this: If the professor is so lazy that he gives the same test every year, it’s okay to go ahead and take advantage—you’ve both got better things to do.
  19. quaff
    swallow hurriedly or greedily or in one draught
    If you advance in the direction of someone else’s dreams—if you want to live someone else’s life rather than yours—then get a TV for every room, buy yourself a lifetime supply of your favorite quaff, crank up the porn channel, and groove away.
  20. libation
    the act of pouring a liquid offering as a religious ceremony
    Instead of being punished, these guys frequently stay around, strolling the quad and swilling the libations, an affront (and sometimes a terror) to their victims.
  21. eschew
    avoid and stay away from deliberately
    The student who eschews medical school to follow his gift for teaching small children spends his twenties in low-paying but pleasurable and soul-rewarding toil.
  22. expertly
    in an expert manner
    Because every subject you study is a language and since you may adopt one of these languages as your own, you’ll want to know how to speak it expertly and also how it fails to deal with those concerns for which it has no adequate words.
  23. relevance
    the relation of something to the matter at hand
    The people who do this work have highly developed intellectual powers, and they push themselves hard to reach a certain standard: That the results have almost no practical relevance to the students, the public, or even, frequently, to other scholars is a central element in the tragicomedy that is often academia.
  24. pessimist
    a person who expects the worst
    He couldn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus, or in the afterlife, but to Schopenhauer, a deep pessimist, a religion that had as its central emblem the figure of a man being tortured on a cross couldn’t be entirely misleading.
  25. prod
    push against gently
    Occasionally—for you will need some help in fleshing-out the answers—you may have to prod your professors to see if they take the text at hand—in this case the divine and disturbing Plato—to be true.
  26. compress
    squeeze or press together
    My father compressed his brow and blew twin streams of smoke, dragon-like, from his magnificent nose.
  27. administrator
    someone who manages a government agency or department
    As for the administrators, their relation to the students often seems based not on love but fear.
  28. shoddy
    of inferior workmanship and materials
    Shoddy work—in which the author cheats, cuts corners, copies from others—is quickly detected.
  29. resource
    aid or support that may be drawn upon when needed
    I came to college with few resources, but one of them was an understanding, however crude, of how I might use my opportunities there.
  30. dwindle
    become smaller or lose substance
    But then interest dwindles and matters go back to normal.
  31. revere
    regard with feelings of respect
    You have been raised in proximity to common sense, if you’ve been raised at all, and common sense is something to respect, though not quite—peace unto the formidable Burke—to revere.
  32. college
    an institution of higher education
    Welcome and congratulations: Getting to the first day of college is a major achievement.
  33. touchstone
    a basis for comparison
    Brodhead, an impressive, articulate man, seems to take as his educational touchstone the Duke of Wellington’s precept that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.
  34. articulate
    express or state clearly
    Brodhead, an impressive, articulate man, seems to take as his educational touchstone the Duke of Wellington’s precept that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.
  35. goad
    stab or urge on as if with a pointed stick
    He was—and is—a perpetual challenge and goad.
  36. fraught
    filled with or attended with
    Trying to figure out whether the stuff you’re reading is true or false and being open to having your life changed is a fraught, controversial activity.
  37. disparity
    inequality or difference in some respect
    The public senses this disparity and so thinks of the professors’ work as being silly or beside the point.
  38. consequential
    having important issues or results
    I learned that if I wanted to affirm any consequential ideal, I had to talk my way past Freud.
  39. expend
    use up or consume fully
    But when we expend our energies in rightful ways, Robert Frost observed, we stay whole and vigorous and we don’t weary.
  40. temerity
    fearless daring
    A friend of mine had the temerity to detect cheating on the part of a kid who was the nephew of a well-placed official in an Arab government complexly aligned with the U.S.
  41. erotic
    giving sexual pleasure; sexually arousing
    He calls it “the overestimation of the erotic object.”
  42. analytical
    using or skilled in using reasoning
    And you will have to be tough if the professor mocks you for uttering a sincere question instead of keeping matters easy for all concerned by staying detached and analytical.
  43. revise
    make changes to
    He didn’t get to revise his understanding of himself, figure out what he’d do best that might give the world some profit.
  44. stroll
    a leisurely walk, usually in some public place
    Instead of being punished, these guys frequently stay around, strolling the quad and swilling the libations, an affront (and sometimes a terror) to their victims.
  45. detached
    no longer connected or joined
    At the time I found his remark a tad detached, but maybe he was right.
  46. nonetheless
    despite anything to the contrary
    Scholarship, even if pretentious and almost unreadable, is nonetheless labor-intense.
  47. challenging
    requiring full use of your abilities or resources
    When he came to Harvard to talk about religion, he shocked the professors and students by challenging the divinity of Jesus and the truth of his miracles.
  48. reliance
    the state of depending on something
    Much more I learned from the sage—about character, about loss, about joy, about writing and its secret sources, but Emerson most centrally preaches the gospel of self- reliance and that is what I have tried most to take from him.
  49. navigate
    direct carefully and safely
    His separation of the self into three parts, and his sense of the fraught, anxious, but often negotiable relations among them (negotiable when you come to the game with a Freudian knowledge), does a great deal to help one navigate experience.
  50. sheaf
    a package of several things tied together
    The coach knows what your athletic prospects are, the guidance office has a sheaf of test scores that relegate you to this or that ability quadrant, and your teachers have got you pegged.
  51. barrage
    the heavy fire of artillery to saturate an area
    (Though sometimes—and this I owe to Emerson—it seems right to let the psyche fall into civil war, accepting barrages of anxiety and grief for this or that good reason.)
  52. periodically
    in a sporadic manner
    Periodically the public gets exercised about this situation, and there are articles in the national news.
  53. surround
    extend on all sides of simultaneously; encircle
    Amidst the impressive college buildings, in company with a high-powered faculty, surrounded by the best of your generation, all you need is to keep doing what you’ve done before: Work hard, get good grades, listen to your teachers, get along with the people around you, and you’ll emerge in four years as an educated young man or woman.
  54. transcendent
    exceeding or surpassing usual limits
    Schopenhauer, who despised belief in transcendent things, nonetheless thought Christianity to be of inexpressible worth.
  55. pretentious
    creating an appearance of importance or distinction
    Scholarship, even if pretentious and almost unreadable, is nonetheless labor-intense.
  56. exhilarating
    making lively and joyful
    Emerson’s greatness lies not only in showing you how powerful names and customs can be, but also in demonstrating how exhilarating it is to buck them.
  57. synonymous
    meaning the same or nearly the same
    “Strongly spent,” the poet says, “is synonymous with kept.”
  58. guy
    an informal term for a youth or man
    Colleges are even leery of disciplining guys who have committed sexual assault, or assault plain and simple.
  59. astonish
    affect with wonder
    You can get a terrific education in America now—there are astonishing opportunities at almost every college—but the education will not be presented to you wrapped and bowed.
  60. quest
    the act of searching for something
    The quest at the center of a liberal-arts education is not a luxury quest; it’s a necessity quest.
  61. challenge
    a call to engage in a contest or fight
    When he came to Harvard to talk about religion, he shocked the professors and students by challenging the divinity of Jesus and the truth of his miracles.
  62. exaggerate
    enlarge beyond bounds or the truth
    If you do not undertake it, you risk leading a life of desperation—maybe quiet, maybe, in time, very loud—and I am not exaggerating.
  63. intermittent
    stopping and starting at irregular intervals
    He buys shirts from the Salvation Army, has intermittent Internet, and vacations where he can.
  64. radically
    in an extreme or revolutionary manner
    This is radically false.
  65. gruff
    brusque and surly and forbidding
    My father was a gruff man, but also a generous one, so that night at the kitchen table at 58 Clewley Road he made an effort to let me have the chance that had been denied to him by both fate and character.
  66. suggest
    make a proposal; declare a plan for something
    The dean of students laughed lightly when I suggested that this behavior might be grounds for sending the student on a brief vacation.
  67. legacy
    a gift of personal property by will
    The legacy of their college years will be a legacy of difficulties overcome.
  68. develop
    progress or evolve through a process of natural growth
    This I began to develop because of my father, who had never been to college—in fact, he’d barely gotten out of high school.
  69. salient
    conspicuous, prominent, or important
    Education has one salient enemy in present-day America, and that enemy is education—university education in particular.
  70. altering
    the sterilization of an animal
    This kind of perspective- altering teaching and learning can cause the things which administrators fear above all else: trouble, arguments, bad press, etc.
  71. thesis
    an unproved statement advanced as a premise in an argument
    All right, there’s nothing wrong with this as far as it goes—after all, the student who writes a brilliant forty-page thesis in a hard week has learned more than a little about her inner resources.
  72. detect
    discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of
    Shoddy work—in which the author cheats, cuts corners, copies from others—is quickly detected.
  73. enhance
    increase
    What colleges generally want are well-rounded students, civic leaders, people who know what the system demands, how to keep matters light, not push too hard for an education or anything else; people who get their credentials and leave the professors alone to do their brilliant work, so they may rise and enhance the rankings of the university.
  74. creator
    a person who grows or makes or invents things
    It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.”
  75. ponder
    reflect deeply on a subject
    From Freud I found a great deal to ponder as well.
  76. aspire
    have an ambitious plan or a lofty goal
    I don’t mean Freud the aspiring scientist, but the Freud who was a speculative essayist and interpreter of the human condition like Emerson.
  77. affront
    a deliberately offensive act
    Instead of being punished, these guys frequently stay around, strolling the quad and swilling the libations, an affront (and sometimes a terror) to their victims.
  78. projection
    the act of expelling or ejecting
    Having found what’s best for you to do, you may be surprised how far you rise, how prosperous, even against your own projections, you become.
  79. precept
    a rule of personal conduct
    Brodhead, an impressive, articulate man, seems to take as his educational touchstone the Duke of Wellington’s precept that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.
  80. repress
    conceal or hide
    They’re disguised fulfillments of repressed wishes.
  81. raise
    move upwards
    It’s been said that raising a child effectively takes a village: Well, as you may have noticed, our American village is not in very good shape.
  82. metaphor
    a figure of speech that suggests a non-literal similarity
    You’ll be looking into the reach of every metaphor that every discipline offers, and you’ll be trying to see around their corners.
  83. requirement
    necessary activity
    “How about the science requirements?”
  84. confront
    oppose, as in hostility or a competition
    They have confronted you with scriptures—holy books that, whatever their actual provenance, have given people what they feel to be wisdom for thousands of years.
  85. precipitate
    bring about abruptly
    Edmund Burke saw common sense as a loosely made, but often profound, collective work, in which humanity has deposited its hard-earned wisdom—the precipitate of joy and tears—over time.
  86. grade
    a position on a scale of intensity or amount or quality
    Amidst the impressive college buildings, in company with a high-powered faculty, surrounded by the best of your generation, all you need is to keep doing what you’ve done before: Work hard, get good grades, listen to your teachers, get along with the people around you, and you’ll emerge in four years as an educated young man or woman.
  87. banish
    expel, as if by official decree
    You must ask whether reason should always rule the passions, philosophers should always rule the state, and poets should inevitably be banished from a just commonwealth.
  88. job
    a specific piece of work required to be done as a duty
    For students, that end is a good job.
  89. probe
    an exploratory action or expedition
    And, too, you’ve been tested, probed, looked at up and down and through.
  90. abstract
    existing only in the mind
    The students write their abstract, over-intellectualized essays; the professors grade the students for their capacity to be abstract and over-intellectual—and often genuinely smart.
  91. arduous
    characterized by effort to the point of exhaustion
    When they face equally arduous tasks later in life, students will tap their old resources of determination, and they’ll win.
  92. major
    greater in scope or effect
    Welcome and congratulations: Getting to the first day of college is a major achievement.
  93. virtually
    in essence or in effect but not in fact
    The proof is that virtually no undergraduate students can read and understand their professors’ scholarly publications.
  94. culture
    all the knowledge and values shared by a society
    We’ve got guns, drugs, two wars, fanatical religions, a slime-based popular culture, and some politicians who—a little restraint here—aren’t what they might be.
  95. proximity
    the property of being close together
    You have been raised in proximity to common sense, if you’ve been raised at all, and common sense is something to respect, though not quite—peace unto the formidable Burke—to revere.
  96. conformity
    correspondence in form, type, or appearance
    The virtue in most request is conformity.
  97. predict
    tell in advance
    He declares that dreams don’t predict the future and that there’s nothing benevolent about them.
  98. profound
    situated at or extending to great depth
    Embedded in all of the major religions are profound truths.
  99. tenure
    the term during which some position is held
    The work they are compelled to do to advance—get tenure, promotion, raises, outside offers—is, broadly speaking, scholarly work.
  100. hatch
    a movable barrier covering an entrance
    One night after dinner, he and I were sitting in our kitchen at 58 Clewley Road in Medford, Massachusetts, hatching plans about the rest of my life.
  101. volunteer
    a person who performs work done by choice
    The professor saves his energies for the profession, while the student saves his for friends, social life, volunteer work, making connections, and getting in position to clasp hands on the true grail, the first job.
  102. commend
    present as worthy of regard, kindness, or confidence
    You’re to be commended, and not just you, but the parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts who helped get you here.
  103. chilly
    appreciably or disagreeably cold
    For their essays can be brilliant, in a chilly way; they can also be clipped off the Internet, and often are.
  104. realm
    a domain in which something is dominant
    Let the profs roam free in the realms of pure thought, let yourselves party in the realms of impure pleasure, and let the student-services gang assert fewer prohibitions and newer delights for you.
  105. provoke
    provide the needed stimulus for
    Freud has something challenging and provoking to say about virtually every human aspiration.
  106. affirm
    declare solemnly and formally as true
    I learned that if I wanted to affirm any consequential ideal, I had to talk my way past Freud.
  107. discreet
    marked by prudence or modesty and wise self-restraint
    The idea that a university education really should have no substantial content, should not be about what John Keats was disposed to call Soul-making, is one that you might think professors and university presidents would be discreet about.
  108. clasp
    hold firmly and tightly
    The professor saves his energies for the profession, while the student saves his for friends, social life, volunteer work, making connections, and getting in position to clasp hands on the true grail, the first job.
  109. faculty
    an inherent cognitive or perceptual power of the mind
    Amidst the impressive college buildings, in company with a high-powered faculty, surrounded by the best of your generation, all you need is to keep doing what you’ve done before: Work hard, get good grades, listen to your teachers, get along with the people around you, and you’ll emerge in four years as an educated young man or woman.
  110. aversion
    a feeling of intense dislike
    Self-reliance is its aversion.
  111. issuing
    the act of providing an item for general use
    If universities stopped issuing credentials, half of the clients would be gone by tomorrow morning, with the remainder following fast behind.
  112. potentially
    with a possibility of becoming actual
    You are, as Foucault might say, the intersection of many evaluative and potentially determining discourses: you boy, you girl, have been made.
  113. create
    bring into existence
    But the public also senses that because professors don’t pay full-bore attention to teaching they don’t have to work very hard—they’ve created a massive feather bed for themselves and called it a university.
  114. suppress
    put down by force or authority
    You may find your own suppressed and rejected thoughts flowing back to you with an “alienated majesty.”
  115. prone
    having a tendency
    It’s just that smart people are prone to look into matters to see how they might go about buttering their toast.
  116. emerge
    come out into view, as from concealment
    Amidst the impressive college buildings, in company with a high-powered faculty, surrounded by the best of your generation, all you need is to keep doing what you’ve done before: Work hard, get good grades, listen to your teachers, get along with the people around you, and you’ll emerge in four years as an educated young man or woman.
  117. pose
    assume a bearing as for artistic purposes
    (Detached analysis has a place—but, in the end, you’ve got to speak from the heart and pose the question of truth.)
  118. massive
    containing a great quantity of matter
    Then there are those back-breaking student loans—people leave school as servants, indentured to pay massive bills, so that first job better be a good one.
  119. demonstrate
    give an exhibition of to an interested audience
    Emerson’s greatness lies not only in showing you how powerful names and customs can be, but also in demonstrating how exhilarating it is to buck them.
  120. controversial
    marked by or capable of arousing disagreement
    Trying to figure out whether the stuff you’re reading is true or false and being open to having your life changed is a fraught, controversial activity.
  121. injure
    cause bodily harm to
    But he writes another—in part out of a feeling of injured merit, maybe—and that one they do buy.
  122. discern
    detect with the senses
    As far as I can discern, the student ethos goes like this: If the professor is so lazy that he gives the same test every year, it’s okay to go ahead and take advantage—you’ve both got better things to do.
  123. monetary
    relating to or involving money
    In a culture where the major and determining values are monetary, what else could you do?
  124. prohibition
    the action of forbidding
    Let the profs roam free in the realms of pure thought, let yourselves party in the realms of impure pleasure, and let the student-services gang assert fewer prohibitions and newer delights for you.
  125. predecessor
    one who goes before you in time
    For somehow your predecessors are more yourself than you are.
  126. primary
    of first rank or importance or value
    The idea that the courses you take should be the primary objective of going to college is tacitly considered absurd.
  127. cultivate
    adapt something wild to the environment
    The reason to read Blake and Dickinson and Freud and Dickens is not to become more cultivated, or more articulate, or to be someone who, at a cocktail party, is never embarrassed (or who can embarrass others).
  128. invest
    lay out money or resources in an enterprise
    Whatever the case, no one wants to invest too much in them—for life is elsewhere.
  129. benevolent
    showing or motivated by sympathy and understanding
    He declares that dreams don’t predict the future and that there’s nothing benevolent about them.
  130. ignore
    refuse to acknowledge
    And all of those teachers and counselors and friends—and the prognosticating uncles, the dithering aunts, the fathers and mothers with their hopes for your fulfillment—or their fulfillment in you—should not necessarily be cast aside or ignored.
  131. publication
    the act of issuing printed materials
    The proof is that virtually no undergraduate students can read and understand their professors’ scholarly publications.
  132. energy
    forceful exertion
    The professor saves his energies for the profession, while the student saves his for friends, social life, volunteer work, making connections, and getting in position to clasp hands on the true grail, the first job.
  133. perspective
    a way of regarding situations or topics
    This kind of perspective-altering teaching and learning can cause the things which administrators fear above all else: trouble, arguments, bad press, etc.
  134. compel
    force somebody to do something
    The work they are compelled to do to advance—get tenure, promotion, raises, outside offers—is, broadly speaking, scholarly work.
  135. reject
    refuse to accept or acknowledge
    You may find your own suppressed and rejected thoughts flowing back to you with an “alienated majesty.”
  136. exceed
    be or do something to a greater degree
    We need to see where they fall short and where they exceed the mark, and then to develop them a little, as the ideas themselves, one comes to see, actually developed others.
  137. rub
    move over something with pressure
    But what to do with that talent—there was the rub for my father.
  138. destructive
    causing damage
    You have to ask yourself if wildly expressive music (rock and rap and the rest) deranges the soul in ways that are destructive to its health.
  139. joint
    junction by which parts or objects are linked together
    I continue to hold in mind one of Emerson’s most memorable passages: “Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater.
  140. talent
    natural abilities or qualities
    He had talent: My brother and I each got about half the raw ability he possessed and that’s taken us through life well enough.
  141. deposit
    the act of putting something somewhere
    Edmund Burke saw common sense as a loosely made, but often profound, collective work, in which humanity has deposited its hard-earned wisdom—the precipitate of joy and tears—over time.
  142. brilliant
    full of light; shining intensely
    For their essays can be brilliant, in a chilly way; they can also be clipped off the Internet, and often are.
  143. medical
    relating to the study or practice of medicine
    They want the certificate that will give them access to Wall Street, or entrance into law or medical or business school.
  144. mock
    treat with contempt
    And you will have to be tough if the professor mocks you for uttering a sincere question instead of keeping matters easy for all concerned by staying detached and analytical.
  145. objective
    the goal intended to be attained
    The idea that the courses you take should be the primary objective of going to college is tacitly considered absurd.
  146. devote
    dedicate
    What if you arrive at college devoted to pre-med, sure that nothing will make you and your family happier than a life as a physician, only to discover that elementary-school teaching is where your heart is?
  147. content
    satisfied or showing satisfaction with things as they are
    The idea that a university education really should have no substantial content, should not be about what John Keats was disposed to call Soul-making, is one that you might think professors and university presidents would be discreet about.
  148. bore
    make a hole, especially with a pointed power or hand tool
    But the public also senses that because professors don’t pay full- bore attention to teaching they don’t have to work very hard—they’ve created a massive feather bed for themselves and called it a university.
  149. promotion
    the act of raising in rank or position
    The work they are compelled to do to advance—get tenure, promotion, raises, outside offers—is, broadly speaking, scholarly work.
  150. contain
    hold or have within
    What he told me that evening at the Clewley Road kitchen table was true in itself, and it also contains the germ of an idea about what a university education should be.
  151. despise
    look down on with disdain or disgust
    Schopenhauer, who despised belief in transcendent things, nonetheless thought Christianity to be of inexpressible worth.
  152. sustain
    lengthen or extend in duration or space
    He never had a world of possibilities spread before him, never made sustained contact with the best that had been thought and said.
  153. statistics
    a branch of mathematics concerned with quantitative data
    You’ll not only question the statistics teacher about what numbers can explain but what they can’t.
  154. facility
    a building or place that provides a particular service
    So, if you want an education, the odds aren’t with you: The professors are off doing what they call their own work; the other students, who’ve doped out the way the place runs, are busy leaving the professors alone and getting themselves in position for bright and shining futures; the student-services people are trying to keep everyone content, offering plenty of entertainment and building another state-of-the-art workout facility every few months.
  155. aggressive
    characteristic of an enemy or one eager to fight
    Right now, if you’re going to get a real education, you may have to be aggressive and assertive.
  156. figure
    the form or shape of a person's body
    They’ve done a fine job skating on surfaces in high school—the best way to get an across-the-board outstanding record—and now they’re on campus to cut a few more figure eights.
  157. ignored
    disregarded
    And all of those teachers and counselors and friends—and the prognosticating uncles, the dithering aunts, the fathers and mothers with their hopes for your fulfillment—or their fulfillment in you—should not necessarily be cast aside or ignored.
  158. restraint
    the act of controlling by holding someone or something back
    We’ve got guns, drugs, two wars, fanatical religions, a slime-based popular culture, and some politicians who—a little restraint here—aren’t what they might be.
  159. sage
    a mentor in spiritual and philosophical topics
    Much more I learned from the sage—about character, about loss, about joy, about writing and its secret sources, but Emerson most centrally preaches the gospel of self-reliance and that is what I have tried most to take from him.
  160. achievement
    the action of accomplishing something
    Welcome and congratulations: Getting to the first day of college is a major achievement.
  161. contribute
    provide
    Such students leave and become donors and so, in their own turn, contribute immeasurably to the university’s standing.
  162. inevitably
    in such a manner as could not be otherwise
    You must ask whether reason should always rule the passions, philosophers should always rule the state, and poets should inevitably be banished from a just commonwealth.
  163. detected
    perceived or discerned
    Shoddy work—in which the author cheats, cuts corners, copies from others—is quickly detected.
  164. prospect
    the possibility of future success
    In terms of their work, students live in the future and not the present; they live with their prospects for success.
  165. assert
    declare or affirm solemnly and formally as true
    Let the profs roam free in the realms of pure thought, let yourselves party in the realms of impure pleasure, and let the student-services gang assert fewer prohibitions and newer delights for you.
  166. shrewd
    marked by practical hardheaded intelligence
    Never has there been a more shrewd and imaginative cartographer of the psyche.
  167. odds
    the likelihood of a thing occurring
    So, if you want an education, the odds aren’t with you: The professors are off doing what they call their own work; the other students, who’ve doped out the way the place runs, are busy leaving the professors alone and getting themselves in position for bright and shining futures; the student-services people are trying to keep everyone content, offering plenty of entertainment and building another state-of-the-art workout facility every few months.
  168. alter
    cause to change; make different
    This kind of perspective- altering teaching and learning can cause the things which administrators fear above all else: trouble, arguments, bad press, etc.
  169. concern
    something that interests you because it is important
    And you will have to be tough if the professor mocks you for uttering a sincere question instead of keeping matters easy for all concerned by staying detached and analytical.
  170. comprehend
    get the meaning of something
    He gave me the chance to see what I was all about, and if it proved to be different from him, proved even to be something he didn’t like or entirely comprehend, then he’d deal with it.
  171. survive
    continue in existence after
    To merely survive in this American village and to win a place in the entering class has taken a lot of grit on your part.
  172. future
    the time yet to come
    In terms of their work, students live in the future and not the present; they live with their prospects for success.
  173. adequate
    having the requisite qualities or resources to meet a task
    Because every subject you study is a language and since you may adopt one of these languages as your own, you’ll want to know how to speak it expertly and also how it fails to deal with those concerns for which it has no adequate words.
  174. sublime
    of high moral or intellectual value
    Reading the great writers, you may have the experience that Longinus associated with the sublime: You feel that you have actually created the text yourself.
  175. intensity
    high level or degree
    After the kid-samurai episode, the chair of my department not unsympathetically suggested that this was the sort of incident that could happen when you brought a certain intensity to teaching.
  176. crude
    belonging to an early stage of technical development
    I came to college with few resources, but one of them was an understanding, however crude, of how I might use my opportunities there.
  177. associate
    bring or come into action
    Reading the great writers, you may have the experience that Longinus associated with the sublime: You feel that you have actually created the text yourself.
  178. ability
    the quality of having the means or skills to do something
    The coach knows what your athletic prospects are, the guidance office has a sheaf of test scores that relegate you to this or that ability quadrant, and your teachers have got you pegged.
  179. lecture
    a speech that is open to the public
    The world wants him to write more, lecture, travel more, and will pay him for his efforts, and he likes this a good deal.
  180. experience
    the content of observation or participation in an event
    My father had some experience with lawyers, and with policemen, too; he was not well-disposed toward either.
  181. undertake
    enter upon an activity or enterprise
    If you do not undertake it, you risk leading a life of desperation—maybe quiet, maybe, in time, very loud—and I am not exaggerating.
  182. text
    the words of something written
    Reading the great writers, you may have the experience that Longinus associated with the sublime: You feel that you have actually created the text yourself.
  183. adopt
    take into one's family
    Because every subject you study is a language and since you may adopt one of these languages as your own, you’ll want to know how to speak it expertly and also how it fails to deal with those concerns for which it has no adequate words.
  184. esteem
    the condition of being honored
    One kid I knew (and rather liked) threatened on his blog to mince his dear and esteemed professor (me) with a samurai sword for the crime of having taught a boring class.
  185. scholar
    a learned person
    The people who do this work have highly developed intellectual powers, and they push themselves hard to reach a certain standard: That the results have almost no practical relevance to the students, the public, or even, frequently, to other scholars is a central element in the tragicomedy that is often academia.
  186. accomplish
    achieve with effort
    I was about to go off to college, a feat no one in my family had accomplished in living memory.
  187. function
    what something is used for
    The primary function of Yale University, it’s recently been said, is to create prosperous alumni so as to enrich Yale University.
  188. reflect
    throw or bend back from a surface
    These essays are honest: Their footnotes reflect real reading, real assimilation, and real dedication.
  189. commit
    engage in or perform
    Colleges are even leery of disciplining guys who have committed sexual assault, or assault plain and simple.
  190. substantial
    real; having a material or factual existence
    The idea that a university education really should have no substantial content, should not be about what John Keats was disposed to call Soul-making, is one that you might think professors and university presidents would be discreet about.
  191. sustained
    continued at length without interruption or weakening
    He never had a world of possibilities spread before him, never made sustained contact with the best that had been thought and said.
  192. perpetual
    continuing forever or indefinitely
    He was—and is—a perpetual challenge and goad.
  193. course
    a connected series of events or actions or developments
    But until I had the reincarnation stuff from a solid source, I better get to work and pick out some English classes from the course catalog.
  194. depart
    go away or leave
    This view informed an address that Richard Brodhead gave to the senior class at Yale before he departed to become president of Duke.
  195. fundamental
    serving as an essential component
    No matter what anyone says this work has precious little to do with the fundamentals of teaching.
  196. evolution
    sequence of events involved in the development of a species
    You’ll be the one who challenges your biology teacher about the intellectual conflict between evolution and creationist thinking.
  197. formidable
    extremely impressive in strength or excellence
    You have been raised in proximity to common sense, if you’ve been raised at all, and common sense is something to respect, though not quite—peace unto the formidable Burke—to revere.
  198. harsh
    disagreeable to the senses
    One does not need to be as harsh as Schopenhauer to understand the use of religion, even if one does not believe in an otherworldly god.
  199. conceive
    have the idea for
    When you read Plato, you’ll probably learn about his metaphysics and his politics and his way of conceiving the soul.
  200. source
    the place where something begins
    But until I had the reincarnation stuff from a solid source, I better get to work and pick out some English classes from the course catalog.
  201. decade
    a period of 10 years
    He wasn’t invited back for decades.
  202. toil
    work hard
    The student who eschews medical school to follow his gift for teaching small children spends his twenties in low-paying but pleasurable and soul-rewarding toil.
  203. philosopher
    a specialist in the investigation of existence and knowledge
    You must ask whether reason should always rule the passions, philosophers should always rule the state, and poets should inevitably be banished from a just commonwealth.
  204. invisible
    impossible or nearly impossible to see
    “No!” he said, filling the air with an invisible forest of exclamation points.)
  205. discourse
    an extended communication dealing with some particular topic
    You are, as Foucault might say, the intersection of many evaluative and potentially determining discourses: you boy, you girl, have been made.
  206. plenty
    a full supply
    So, if you want an education, the odds aren’t with you: The professors are off doing what they call their own work; the other students, who’ve doped out the way the place runs, are busy leaving the professors alone and getting themselves in position for bright and shining futures; the student-services people are trying to keep everyone content, offering plenty of entertainment and building another state-of-the-art workout facility every few months.
  207. direction
    a line leading to a place or point
    In saying that, he (like my father) hinted in the direction of a profound and true theory of learning.
  208. restore
    bring back into original existence, function, or position
    Education is about finding out what form of work for you is close to being play—work you do so easily that it restores you as you go.
  209. necessity
    the condition of being essential or indispensable
    To be poor in America is to be a failure—it’s to be without decent health care, without basic necessities, often without dignity.
  210. hint
    an indirect suggestion
    In saying that, he (like my father) hinted in the direction of a profound and true theory of learning.
  211. risk
    a source of danger
    If you do not undertake it, you risk leading a life of desperation—maybe quiet, maybe, in time, very loud—and I am not exaggerating.
  212. luxury
    something that is an indulgence rather than a necessity
    The quest at the center of a liberal-arts education is not a luxury quest; it’s a necessity quest.
  213. analysis
    abstract separation of a whole into its constituent parts
    (Detached analysis has a place—but, in the end, you’ve got to speak from the heart and pose the question of truth.)
  214. vigorous
    characterized by forceful and energetic action or activity
    But when we expend our energies in rightful ways, Robert Frost observed, we stay whole and vigorous and we don’t weary.
  215. intellect
    knowledge and mental ability
    Of course, given your intellect and discipline, you can still probably be one.
  216. decline
    grow worse
    You’ll ask your history teacher about whether there is a design to our history, whether we’re progressing or declining, or whether, in the words of a fine recent play, The History Boys, history’s “just one fuckin’ thing after another.”
  217. rejected
    rebuffed (by a lover) without warning
    You may find your own suppressed and rejected thoughts flowing back to you with an “alienated majesty.”
  218. influence
    a power to affect persons or events
    This was my own experience reading the two writers who have influenced me the most, Sigmund Freud and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
  219. surrender
    relinquish possession or control over
    I continue to hold in mind one of Emerson’s most memorable passages: “Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater.
  220. center
    an area that is in the middle of some larger region
    The quest at the center of a liberal-arts education is not a luxury quest; it’s a necessity quest.
  221. instruction
    activities that impart knowledge or skill
    He’s always behind on his student-loan payments; he still lives in a house with four other guys (not all of whom got proper instructions on how to clean a bathroom).
  222. balance
    harmonious arrangement or relation of parts within a whole
    You must inquire of yourself if balanced calm is the most desirable human state.
  223. inevitable
    incapable of being avoided or prevented
    I need the wherewithal, as Emerson did, to say what’s on my mind and to take the inevitable hits.
  224. absurd
    inconsistent with reason or logic or common sense
    The idea that the courses you take should be the primary objective of going to college is tacitly considered absurd.
  225. determination
    the act of finding out the properties of something
    When they face equally arduous tasks later in life, students will tap their old resources of determination, and they’ll win.
  226. arrive
    reach a destination
    What if you arrive at college devoted to pre-med, sure that nothing will make you and your family happier than a life as a physician, only to discover that elementary-school teaching is where your heart is?
  227. merit
    the quality of being deserving
    But he writes another—in part out of a feeling of injured merit, maybe—and that one they do buy.
  228. injured
    harmed
    But he writes another—in part out of a feeling of injured merit, maybe—and that one they do buy.
  229. access
    the right to enter
    They want the certificate that will give them access to Wall Street, or entrance into law or medical or business school.
  230. institution
    a custom that has been an important feature of some group
    To get an education, you’re probably going to have to fight against the institution that you find yourself in—no matter how prestigious it may be.
  231. declare
    state emphatically and authoritatively
    He declares that dreams don’t predict the future and that there’s nothing benevolent about them.
  232. idle
    not in action or at work
    The question “Who do they think you are at home?” is never an idle one.
  233. instructions
    a manual explaining how to install or operate a device
    He’s always behind on his student-loan payments; he still lives in a house with four other guys (not all of whom got proper instructions on how to clean a bathroom).
  234. tradition
    a specific practice of long standing
    They’ve given you family traditions—you’ve learned the ways of your tribe and your community.
  235. purchase
    acquire by means of a financial transaction
    The Internet is amok with services selling term papers and those services exist, capitalism being what it is, because people purchase the papers—lots of them.
  236. significant
    rich in implication
    Freud challenges nearly every significant human ideal.
  237. channel
    a deep and relatively narrow body of water
    If you advance in the direction of someone else’s dreams—if you want to live someone else’s life rather than yours—then get a TV for every room, buy yourself a lifetime supply of your favorite quaff, crank up the porn channel, and groove away.
  238. normal
    being approximately average or within certain limits
    But then interest dwindles and matters go back to normal.
  239. conflict
    an open clash between two opposing groups
    You’ll be the one who challenges your biology teacher about the intellectual conflict between evolution and creationist thinking.
  240. deny
    declare untrue; contradict
    My father was a gruff man, but also a generous one, so that night at the kitchen table at 58 Clewley Road he made an effort to let me have the chance that had been denied to him by both fate and character.
  241. victim
    an unfortunate person who suffers from adverse circumstances
    Instead of being punished, these guys frequently stay around, strolling the quad and swilling the libations, an affront (and sometimes a terror) to their victims.
  242. render
    give or supply
    They gave words to thoughts and feelings that I had never been able to render myself.
  243. element
    a substance that cannot be separated into simpler substances
    The people who do this work have highly developed intellectual powers, and they push themselves hard to reach a certain standard: That the results have almost no practical relevance to the students, the public, or even, frequently, to other scholars is a central element in the tragicomedy that is often academia.
  244. corner
    the point where three areas or surfaces meet or intersect
    Shoddy work—in which the author cheats, cuts corners, copies from others—is quickly detected.
  245. opportunity
    a possibility from a favorable combination of circumstances
    You can get a terrific education in America now—there are astonishing opportunities at almost every college—but the education will not be presented to you wrapped and bowed.
  246. utter
    without qualification
    And you will have to be tough if the professor mocks you for uttering a sincere question instead of keeping matters easy for all concerned by staying detached and analytical.
  247. intense
    possessing a distinctive feature to a heightened degree
    Scholarship, even if pretentious and almost unreadable, is nonetheless labor- intense.
  248. confess
    admit to a wrongdoing
    I confessed that I was.
  249. possess
    have ownership of
    He had talent: My brother and I each got about half the raw ability he possessed and that’s taken us through life well enough.
  250. incident
    a single distinct event
    After the kid-samurai episode, the chair of my department not unsympathetically suggested that this was the sort of incident that could happen when you brought a certain intensity to teaching.
  251. tour
    a route all the way around a particular place or area
    If I had such info, pre-law would be fine, and maybe even a tour through invertebrate biology could also be tossed in.
  252. office
    place of business where professional duties are performed
    Black limousines pulled up in front of his office and disgorged decorously suited negotiators.
  253. liberal
    showing or characterized by broad-mindedness
    The quest at the center of a liberal-arts education is not a luxury quest; it’s a necessity quest.
  254. capacity
    capability to perform or produce
    The students write their abstract, over-intellectualized essays; the professors grade the students for their capacity to be abstract and over-intellectual—and often genuinely smart.
  255. goal
    the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve
    Students come to college with the goal of a diploma in mind—what happens in between, especially in classrooms, is often of no deep and determining interest to them.
  256. essential
    basic and fundamental
    The battle is to make such writers one’s own, to winnow them out and to find their essential truths.
  257. observe
    watch attentively
    But when we expend our energies in rightful ways, Robert Frost observed, we stay whole and vigorous and we don’t weary.
  258. exist
    have a presence
    The Internet is amok with services selling term papers and those services exist, capitalism being what it is, because people purchase the papers—lots of them.
  259. remark
    make or write a comment on
    At the time I found his remark a tad detached, but maybe he was right.
  260. shape
    a perceptual structure
    It’s been said that raising a child effectively takes a village: Well, as you may have noticed, our American village is not in very good shape.
  261. attend
    be present
    Then I had better study literature, unless I had inside information to the effect that reincarnation wasn’t just hype, and I’d be able to attend college thirty or forty times.
  262. blame
    an accusation that one is responsible for some misdeed
    And how can we blame them?
  263. simple
    having few parts; not complex or complicated or involved
    Colleges are even leery of disciplining guys who have committed sexual assault, or assault plain and simple.
  264. absolute
    perfect or complete or pure
    We’re drawn to them because we hunger for absolute authority.
  265. generation
    group of genetically related organisms in a line of descent
    Amidst the impressive college buildings, in company with a high-powered faculty, surrounded by the best of your generation, all you need is to keep doing what you’ve done before: Work hard, get good grades, listen to your teachers, get along with the people around you, and you’ll emerge in four years as an educated young man or woman.
  266. solid
    not soft or yielding to pressure
    But until I had the reincarnation stuff from a solid source, I better get to work and pick out some English classes from the course catalog.
  267. labor
    any piece of work that is undertaken or attempted
    Scholarship, even if pretentious and almost unreadable, is nonetheless labor-intense.
  268. precious
    of high worth or cost
    No matter what anyone says this work has precious little to do with the fundamentals of teaching.
  269. require
    have need of
    Doing so requires energy from the professor—which is better spent on other matters.
  270. ease
    freedom from difficulty or hardship or effort
    To ease your grief, society offers alcohol, television, drugs, divorce, and buying, buying, buying what you don’t need.
  271. severe
    unsparing and uncompromising in discipline or judgment
    (The class was a little boring—I had a damned cold—but the punishment seemed a bit severe.)
  272. divine
    a clergyman or other person in religious orders
    Occasionally—for you will need some help in fleshing-out the answers—you may have to prod your professors to see if they take the text at hand—in this case the divine and disturbing Plato—to be true.
  273. journal
    a daily written record of experiences and observations
    One can slave for a year or two on a single article for publication in this or that refereed journal.
  274. devoted
    zealous in allegiance or affection
    What if you arrive at college devoted to pre-med, sure that nothing will make you and your family happier than a life as a physician, only to discover that elementary-school teaching is where your heart is?
  275. surrounded
    confined on all sides
    Amidst the impressive college buildings, in company with a high-powered faculty, surrounded by the best of your generation, all you need is to keep doing what you’ve done before: Work hard, get good grades, listen to your teachers, get along with the people around you, and you’ll emerge in four years as an educated young man or woman.
  276. request
    express the need or desire for; ask for
    The virtue in most request is conformity.
  277. entrance
    something that provides access to get in
    They want the certificate that will give them access to Wall Street, or entrance into law or medical or business school.
  278. design
    the act of working out the form of something
    You’ll ask your history teacher about whether there is a design to our history, whether we’re progressing or declining, or whether, in the words of a fine recent play, The History Boys, history’s “just one fuckin’ thing after another.”
  279. terror
    an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety
    Instead of being punished, these guys frequently stay around, strolling the quad and swilling the libations, an affront (and sometimes a terror) to their victims.
  280. exercise
    the activity of exerting muscles to keep fit
    Periodically the public gets exercised about this situation, and there are articles in the national news.
  281. brief
    of short duration or distance
    The dean of students laughed lightly when I suggested that this behavior might be grounds for sending the student on a brief vacation.
  282. practical
    guided by experience and observation rather than theory
    The people who do this work have highly developed intellectual powers, and they push themselves hard to reach a certain standard: That the results have almost no practical relevance to the students, the public, or even, frequently, to other scholars is a central element in the tragicomedy that is often academia.
  283. contact
    the act of touching physically
    He never had a world of possibilities spread before him, never made sustained contact with the best that had been thought and said.
  284. virtue
    the quality of doing what is right
    The virtue in most request is conformity.
  285. theory
    a belief that can guide behavior
    In saying that, he (like my father) hinted in the direction of a profound and true theory of learning.
Created on September 9, 2011

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