Reena’s Exploration Challenge # Week 10 – Horace Skant


(As this is the last of Reena’s Exploration Challenges, let me say how I have enjoyed being a part of each challenge. Thanks Reena for challenging me the way you have.)

When Horace Skant was given tenure at the local university he put on hold his life’s work, at least temporarily.

Horace had spent much of his life answering the question “Why Is It So?”

So when the Dean of Philosophy, Harvey Ivehadathoughtortwo, summoned him to his office on his first day and laid out the nature of Horace’s tenure Horace saw opportunity long denied him.

Horace Skant had lived a long life, most of it on welfare as no one could stand him working for them for than a half day as Horace had a habit of regaling them with whatever discovery he had made into his life’s work.

Not many people were interested in why a cow is a cow. They are what they are but what Horace was fascinated by was how things acquired the name they did. For example he puzzled over why it was a tree was so named a tree. He turned himself in knots over why a stone came to be named a stone. Were the names given to objects random or some work of divine fate?

His first lecture at the university was on “Why Is It So?” He carried into the lecture hall a vast array of objects and away he went describing each one, detailing his evolution and finally posing the question to his students as to why the name had come about.

The result of all this was mild amusement from his students who quickly realised the eccentricity of their new teacher but also enjoyed the entertainment value his lectures presented.

The following weeks his lectures became very popular, every seat was full, the aisles crowded and some students sat upon the floor in front of him.

Not to be deterred Horace charged forward feeling he now had licence to say and talk about every thought he’d ever had. He had a captured audience and he wasn’t giving up this opportunity to tell them everything he’d thought about.

Horace was not what students expected from their philosophy teachers, he was or wasn’t depending on your point of view, teaching something but he was giving them plenty to think about.

Many questioned his sanity, as he challenged most of societies conventions, he seemed to advocate anarchy some weeks and spiritual healing other weeks.

One week he threw open the lecture for questions and spent the entire lecture time engaged in discussion with his students, often arguing, sometimes agreeing but always attentive and respectful.

It was easy to see Horace Skant as a crackpot, an eccentric and a performer but not one student ever questioned his passion, no matter how misguided it appeared to be.


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15 Responses to Reena’s Exploration Challenge # Week 10 – Horace Skant

  1. Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.

  2. Really like this Michael well done. Sometimes the best knowledge, wisdom and challenges come to us from those who think outside the square. Will have a look at ‘the surgeon of crowthorne

  3. Reena Saxena says:

    I would love to be paid for indulging in my fave pursuits, but it does not happen :). This piece is a fantastic read. I have to address a batch of students in a project-based learning course in Nov, and am getting ideas on how to structure it. Thanks a lot, Michael!

  4. Lorraine says:

    Ah, the teacher I always wished to be and to have. Not a crackpot, but an educator with a passion for learning. I learned as much if not more from my students than they did from me.

  5. Pingback: Weekly Round up of #Week 10 – Reena Saxena

  6. If a psychiatrist his hands on him, Horace Skint would probably be diagnosed with OCD and be tagged with an autism spectrum disorder, but I call it dedication. We each have our own way of being, and it can take the best part of a lifetime to gain acceptance in the world.

    Although your story is very different, it reminds me of A Beautiful Mind, an amazing movie about the mathematician John Nash.

  7. Pingback: Reena’s Exploration Challenge #Week 11 – Reena Saxena

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