Headmaster’s Thoughts – April 2012

The old proverb goes: “If you want to make the gods laugh, tell them your plans.” I find this to be true of my Ethics class. I prepare subjects for presentation, write out nice notes, and finish up in a discussion about something completely different.

I am looking at my prepared notes for the continuation of a discussion of the existentialist writing of Jean-Paul Sartre, a philosophy presented in a previous class.

I never got there. Somehow—and this is a very clever senior class who manipulates me superbly—the discussion quickly centered on whether Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke was right to ask for contraceptive insurance coverage. Sartre/contraceptives? I don’t know… We just got there. Quickly!

The feminists (led by a young lady who I thought was shy until she came to the first class) directed the charge for Ms. Fluke, while a normally easygoing and phlegmatic young man replied strongly. Always seated in the front row is a strong Libertarian faction who got their points in, replied to by a friend of the girl I used to think was shy, and quickly responded to, in turn, by a basketball player whose politics I have not yet figured out—a respectful but heated discussion. I felt like a circus ringmaster; before I knew it, the class was at an end. We never got to my nice notes.

So that the whole thing should not be a complete waste of effort, I thought I would present those lecture notes in this month’s “Headmaster’s Thoughts.” I just now read them again. The gods were right to laugh at me. I will spare you. The issues surrounding Ms. Fluke were much more interesting.

In the end, we did discuss moral and ethical issues that help define who we are.

I love teaching this senior class.


Ronald P. Stewart, Headmaster

E-mail: rstewart@yorkprep.org