Day 1 – Chicago to Joliet

It is significantly different traveling with a group than basically going it alone. Democracy is sometimes not a pretty thing to observe. Still, sharing the road is a special delight, especially when your colleagues prove such wonderful ambassadors along the way.

Alumni Reception, Joliet, Illinois

We held our first alumni reception this evening. After a light presentation and some questions I invited our guests to comment on what there is about Pepperdine they thought we should keep and what we should change. We didn't get beyond what to keep, and one perfectly wonderful challenge. A current MBA student expressed satisfaction with his faculty and a former parent spoke of a caring community. The challenge came from a former teacher who asked that Pepperdine (and schools like Pepperdine) act and lead in a manner that would encourage a "third grade teacher." I liked that very much.

Group Discussion, Joliet Illinois

Earlier in the day we held our first group discussion. Our participants included a school superintendent, a professor involved in placing his university teacher-education students in inner-city positions, and a minister with roots in England and Australia. All hold terminal degrees and the discussion was reflective of that fact.

We talked about the importance of encouraging our students not to lead insular lives where cell phones, PDAs, and iPods distract from earnest face-to-face encounters. I asked that they identify a course that should be required of all college/university students. They underscored the importance of a course integrating analysis and critical reasoning and one added that it would be important that it encompass values and ethics.

One participant expressed the opinion that "no child left behind" places metrics above all else and is disrespectful of teachers who give deeply of themselves. Another urged attention to better communication between and among K-12, college/university, and governmental interests. More support and funding are needed and the present "finger pointing" is not productive of much good. Generally there was a lot of interest in bringing to bear forces for good – parents, churches, teachers, colleges and universities, and government – in a manner to support America's youth.

Andy Benton in Joliet Illinois

All of this leads me to want to summarize a lot of thinking that has occurred in various conversations held over the past few months. I may try to do that while experiencing tomorrow's drive to Funks Grove and Springfield. One thing I hoped to find on this journey was opinion – deeply held, carefully considered opinion. I am confident there is a lot of that ahead. Today was productive and, I might add, blog comments are also proving to be very interesting.

Closing this brief entry, I want to observe the joy of spending time today with an alumnus who is living our "purpose, service, and leadership" mission, while hosting two families who will begin their own journey with us this fall. Both are sources of pride and joy.

7 Responses to "Day 1 – Chicago to Joliet"

  1. Jim Campbell Says:

    How "cool" is this that you are doing! What a great opportunity to validate beliefs and challenge them as well. I look forward to sharing the journey with you in a medium (internet) that did not exist for the general public when Route 66 was in it's heyday.
    Be safe and Godspeed!

  2. Jerry Derloshon Says:

    Andy, the road that served so many vehicles and travelers well over decades is serving today as a vehicle for you to explore important issues. As the stories are told and perhaps some conclusions drawn and shared, the road will once again teach many lessons.

  3. Malcolm Hollombe Says:

    I admire the mission of your trip…Listening! What is going to be most interesting is how well we, as parents, teachers, and students, listen to what is told us through your meetings. As I near retirement age, I am extremely concerned that our American culture is becoming so very insular and unaware of the needs and issues that the rest of our world faces. We need to open up and "see" how our educational systems affect not only our society but our relationship to the rest of the world, civilized and otherwise.

    To the point about a course in critical thinking, it is called Philosophy. There should not be only one class required, but a series that includes a whole section on ethics.

    Thanks for sharing this very important trip with us.

    MBA '84

  4. Martha Groves Says:

    Great idea! Great venture! Wish you Godspeed all the way! Will be listening and learning along with you but will let you do the driving!

  5. Donna McIntosh-Fletcher Says:

    How grand that you are doing this. We plan to follow along to learn about the wonderful people and their thoughts with you. Please tell your web folk that we also appreciate how they made this dialogue process so thorough and easy to navigate. A notable surprise as to how comprehensive this web site is, not only your dialogue which is enough as it is, but pictures, tracking of events and so much more. Thank you!

  6. David Dallas Says:

    Quote from your blog: "They underscored the importance of a course integrating analysis and critical reasoning and one added that it would be important that it encompass values and ethics."

    I say amen and comment that critical reasoning can be taught as part of all courses including Bible classes. Science is a very good area that needs always to encompass critical reasoning [thinking]. Students need to know how not to get taken in by "thought stoppers"

  7. Andy Says:

    The point of the trip was listening and understanding. There is nothing quite like speaking with someone face-to-face to see what they really thing and how they express their hopes and dreams and positions. E-mail, texting and the like just don't accomplish the same.

    Critical reasoning, common sense and the ability to handle money were the suggestions most often put forward, by the way.