professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Essential questions

I am driving a few hundred miles today (actually it is about 110 miles as the crow flies) to have lunch with Rosemary Chance. She retired from the department a few years ago, and I miss our book discussions and our book talks at conferences as well. So, her email to me indicated I should be prepared to talk about THE BEST MAN by Richard Peck (and I SO am prepared for that discussion). I was thinking about THE BEST MAN and all the dog-eared pages I made as I read it. And then this video then popped into my Facebook feed: The Dean of the Harvard School of Graduate Education gave a commencement speech in which he presented the audience with 5 essential questions. I include them here, but do yourself a favor and watch the video, too.

1. Wait, what? This is the question which asks for clarification.
2. I wonder why/if? is the question for curiosity
3. Couldn't we at least? is a question for consensus or for making progress.
4. How can I help? is the question that indicates a willingness for involvement without taking over.
5. What truly matters? asks about our core convictions.

Plus there is a bonus question from a poem by Raymond Carver:

And did you get what you wanted out of life even so?

Here is the poem in its entirety:

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

I bet you were wondering about the connections between books and this speech and essential questions, weren't you? Here it is. There are books that make us feel beloved, make us feel we belong. More importantly, in THE BEST MAN, I have no doubt that Archer Magill is beloved. And I do not doubt that he will feel beloved and call himself beloved. It is one of the aspects I love so much about this book. The Magill family is one where we can all feel and be beloved.
Tags: beloved, essential questions
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