From Peter Hardy, Chaplaincy Assistant:
I have had the privilege of being able to attend several talks recently. No longer a student, I find myself gaining a new appreciation for that blandest certainty of student life: the lecture. I know all too well how difficult it is to attend lectures fully awake [and indeed fully sober] so I shall not exhort students to do so, but I will make the more realistic suggestion that we at least find some ways to show respect to those who endow us with the gift of knowledge. With tuition fees being dramatically raised from next year, there is the very real danger of teachers -and indeed education itself- being taken for granted as something that is bought rather than experienced through personal interaction.
The talk I enjoyed the most was given by the University’s Sikh Society. In what I read about Sikhism briefly beforehand it said it was a notably accommodating culture- and this was certainly true of this event. Although I was an outsider I felt just as much part of the community as one is made to feel at the Chaplaincy [yes, a shameless plug]. Other things that particularly strike me about this culture is that disagreement is welcomed as leading to fruitful discussion rather than avoided as something that leads to confrontation, and that out of respect for the virtue of humility the speaker did not want us to clap after the talk had finished.
Perhaps these give us some ideas of how to we could be more respectful of the educational environment. If we are humble by not putting ourselves above others then everyone can feel welcome and an attitude of discussion rather than confrontation can flourish to the benefit of all. In doing so we can respect not only the gift of knowledge but the more precious gift of interpersonal communication, the value of which is expressed in a concept common in both eastern and western religion: the One Eternal Word through which all the world’s creativity and wisdom is spoken.