How To Think

July 19th, 2010
In 1968–69, when I was a freshman considering history as a major, I en-rolled in one of Professor Tom Gleason's courses ("Twilight of a Historian," March/April). I was looking for a relatively easy way to express my recently found socialist philosophy: this was the 1960s, after all.

I dashed off a paper about the founding fathers that was heavily weighted to my perceived idea that these men had been helping themselves financially and that freedom for the American colonies had been virtually an afterthought. I didn't have a lot of references backing up my position other than footnotes from a small volume (since forgotten) that likewise had little documentation behind it.

Rather than showering me with the accolades I expected for my progressive thinking, Professor Gleason let me know that such shabby work would not be sufficient to earn a good grade. At the time, I was shattered. But he was right.

It took me awhile to develop good study and preparation habits. I wound up concentrating in political science and philosophy, which probably fit my temperament a little better. I still love history, and now when I try to understand the thoughts and developments, I have more regard for the actual facts behind them. I hope this is more in line with Professor Gleason's teachings.

All of this is a way of saying thanks to Professor Gleason for not letting me slide. He taught me that hard work and humility are essential to any endeavor.

Jim Gronefeld '72

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July/August 2010