Sunday, May 22, 2005

K.C. Wong takes the editors to task

K.C. gives a very nice, polite response:

Dear Michael, Miles and Colleagues,

I thank both of you for your initiative. Here is my own:

I writ in response to your Sunday (May 22, 2005) “Editorial: Budget cuts chance for UWO leadership” imploring the university faculty to teach more.

The problem with the editorial is that it is based a flawed understanding of a university’s basic mission, function and operation.

First, University is NOT just another vocational college, still less a high school. Professors advance knowledge. Teachers teach existing facts. There is a world of a difference between teaching facts and transmitting knowledge. There is much more to imparting wisdom than credit hours, plus and minus. Discovery – distribution of knowledge is what a UW(O) education is all about.

Second, professors do not only teach in the classroom. They mentor students in multifarious ways. In England, students and professors gathered around the fireplace at home for long discussions over Adam Smith. In Hong Kong professors debate with students over “dim sum” on Confucius ideas and ideals. In Oshkosh, we took students out to have pizzas and sort out their career choices. These non-credit activities carry added-credit for the students for the rest of their lives. Caring for the students is what UW(O) education is all about.

Third, professors are not only there for the university students. For us, the community and the world is one big classroom. By going on 20-20, a professor is educating nation about the pitfalls of blind faith. By organizing a web site a professor is spreading cutting edge terrorism scholarship around the world. By engaging in local politics, a professor is improving the quality of life in the community. Educating the community and changing the world is what UW(O) education is all about.

Finally, and perhaps most difficult for the editor(s) to understand, is that the discovery of ideas, knowledge, wisdom takes time. From this one humble scholar (and many of my colleagues), I can attest to burning much mid-night oil to keep the eternal flame of knowledge shinning. “Knowledge never rests, people do.” As Robert Frost once said: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.” Self sacrifice to search – distribute knowledge is what UW(O) all about.

Professor Kam C. Wong, J.D., Ph.D.
Department of Public Affairs
University of Wisconsin (Oshkosh)

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