Start a conversation: Avani Dias

Avani Dias’ editorial on the beauty of conversation.

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Pierre Ryckmans, an internationally renowned scholar, essayist and literary critic, said in an interview with Radio National’s Late Night Live that his ideal university was one where students are not sitting in class and staring at a blackboard, it is one where they are conversing.  He discovered classical music through his uni friends that were music lovers and he would ascertain new books when his companions would read parts of captivating pieces of literature to each other.  To Pierre Ryckmans, these exchanges were far more important than any of the time he spent listening to a lecture.

This outlook is one that I have been lucky enough to inhabit in my years at Sydney University.  Whatever your opinions on the classroom, education standards and teachers, we should agree on this idea that we are lucky to have the dispensation of being cultivated, cultured and schooled by our peers.  Not only will this concept validate every time that you decide to ditch class and have a beer on the grass with your friends, but it is one of the reasons I enjoy being an editor of Honi Soit to the extent that I do.

Honi Soit is my education.  Being an editor has forced me to find value in the writing of young people, and this has been one of the most beneficial influences this position has had on my day-to-day life.  Instead of reading the run of the mill opinions of 40-something reporters in publications like the Sydney Morning Herald, I can be educated in an unexplored territory like the life of an adult with ADHD on page 10 of this paper.  I can discover the links between street art and rap music through the words of Sam Jonscher, on page 12.  Or I can read about the intricacies of linguistics in the article by Nina Ubaldi on page 8.

I want you to treat each of the articles in this paper like a good conversation with one of your friends.  Like in a good conversation, you must be generous when approaching these articles.  Generous in the sense that you will take on the ideas you find in them and take them into new territories.  In a beautiful progression, you can then discuss them with your friends.  You can even dislike the opinions you find in this paper.  Just make sure you talk about them.

When Pierre Ryckmans was asked about teachers that were role models to him in university, he simply replied “no teacher left as much of an impression on me as my university mates.”  Hopefully, in 40 years from now, when you’re a scholar, teacher, journalist, lawyer, doctor, astronaut or even unemployed, you will be able to say the same thing.

Filed under:
Vice Chancellor Michael Spence.

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