“Tell all the Truth but tell it slant,” Emily Dickinson says in one of her dazzling poems, a reminder that sometimes we cannot describe, define, or delimit certain essential, ineffable ideas. We cannot stare directly at the sun; we see it better when we view it from the corners of our vision, when we take the “slant” view. The insight applies to trying to capture the amazingly diverse and dynamic aspects of Honors. Indeed, there is no “philosophy,” no single statement that emerges from common hegemonic assumptions about Honors education, but instead Honors grows out of a rich, alert, ever changing dedication to deep, creative, active learning-the kind of learning that happens within and outside Honors classrooms, the kind of pedagogies that pay attention to how “slant” approaches to teaching and learning result in truly engaged, exemplary, transformative education.
Indeed, we recognize that Honors is a nexus of various philosophies about teaching and learning, all of them reflecting the wide variety of Honors programs and colleges that comprise the Honors community. But several qualities do cut across many approaches and missions in Honors education-hallmarks that distinguish what we believe in Honors about teaching, learning, service, administration, our lives inside and outside the academy. Certain words come to mind readily as we survey the Honors landscape for core philosophical values, for what we believe about Honors, for our “philosophies”:
What would you add to the list? It’s important to ask the question, because no cookie-cutter, formulaic philosophy is right for all Honors programs or colleges. We labor to create the most challenging, exciting, active learning environment for our students, faculty, and staff through unique curricula, pedagogies, and out-of-class experiences. Our restlessness as Honors teachers and learners keeps us on the move, always experimenting, always on the edge, always taking the “slant” view of our educational enterprise. An intimate understanding of and authentic passion for the complexity of higher-level, engaged, lasting learning drive us in Honors to nurture, support, and inspire talented students and colleagues who are eager to learn, ready to accept the diverse but complementary philosophies of Honors.