We are now in the third week of remote learning, physical distancing and trying to maintain community while keeping apart. My class’s reading this week includes a critique of science and reductive, quantitative thinking from the early days of critical theory. One of my students asked if our theorists from the 1940s would today reject stay-at-home rules because they were based on data-based, probability modeling. It was a question I hadn’t expected, and it did point to the limitations of some humanistic critiques of science when faced with biological threats. When is conformity a threat, and when is it life-saving? When is it both? Whether we are in a Zoom conversation or in a classroom, my students always provoke me to think harder about enduring questions.
After class yesterday I took a stroll around Wesleyan. The few students I encountered were appropriately social-distancing (and reading). I waved to men’s lacrosse coach John Raba and family. I wonder if we were all thinking, “Wait until next year!” It was a lovely day, but I’m used to an increasingly boisterous April campus, and it was so, so quiet! The bushes and trees are expressing themselves in lovely bouquets, but almost nobody is here to take them in. I miss our colleagues and students!