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Colloquium topic: Knowledge, wisdom, engines and enigmas

Does the beauty of nature lie in asymmetry or symmetry, disproportion or proportion, incompleteness or completeness?



Kevin McIlvoy, NMSU professor of English. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips


This is the kind of question asked by passionate, fearless, eager learners who pierce an instructor's layers of assumptions to explore the nature of beauty, said Kevin McIlvoy, professor of English at New Mexico State University. The longer a person teaches, the more layers of assumptions are piled on top of the person's core beliefs. McIlvoy said students want to get right to the heart of the matter, so they will penetrate the layers to ask how the teacher derived the assumption that the beauty of nature lies in symmetry.

McIlvoy's colloquium topic for Tuesday, April 11, is "Engine and Enigma: A Learner's Journey." His presentation will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Room 107 of the NMSU Science Hall.

"My thinking about this has a lot to do with reading philosophy in which wisdom is often described this way," he said. "Someone has a piece of information that they wish to bring to the people in their own village or community. If the person communicates the information, the engine of knowledge is brought to the community. If the person brings the information and his or her unique feeling about the information, the enigma of wisdom is brought to the community. If in the classroom, we have a common path of moving from knowledge or through knowledge to wisdom, then we are involved in a dynamic learning process."

"To be given a life in which you will be broken open in this way every day is inestimably rewarding," McIlvoy said. "It's why people say there's no life like the life of a teacher."

The College of Arts and Sciences colloquium series will continue with:

- "Saving the Ranch: Conservation Easements in New Mexico," Jack Wright, Department of Geography, April 18.

- "Mexican Descent Youth at the Crossroads of Sameness and Difference: A Mosaic of Youth Cultures and Border Identity," Cynthia Bejarano, Department of Criminal Justice, April 25.