Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Classical dialogues in La Cañada

October 07, 2010|By Joe Puglia

Last Friday morning Kaitzer was multi-tasking: folding laundry, making lunches and tutoring the girls for school quizzes. I was busy looking for my car keys. Our kitchen resembled the last frantic moments prior to jumping off a chopper into a hot LZ.

"Joe, make sure you gather all your books and papers, my philosophy group is meeting tonight," she said.

I didn't know Kaitzer had a philosophy group.

Coincidently, that evening some of my buddies were meeting at the Red Lion Pub for some beer and bratwurst. We were excited to delve into such subjects as the Yankees, how Shaq will do in Boston, and covert operations in Pakistan.

How fortuitous, I thought. Kaitzer's meeting sounded like the perfect conduit to a boys' night out.

And then: "Could you take the girls to soccer practice tonight?" Kaitzer inquired.

If there's one thing I learned in the Marines, it's that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.


About 10 of Kaitzer's former students from Pasadena City College gather each month and probe the questions of the universe. Their topics include the breadth of thought from the Greek classics to the educational philosophers. Tonight they were dissecting the works of John Dewey, Jean Piaget and Frederik Froebel. (Try saying Frederik Frobel three times. Bet you can't.)

I was resigned to spending a Friday night overseeing the girls, making sure they didn't burn the house down during the group discussions. I existed on the periphery of their intellectual diatribes and watched re-runs of "Glee." Since I can bring a group down to my level in two minutes, I was reluctant to join their discussions.

Typically, Kaitzer's students, education majors, would flood her office after a lecture, bringing their inquiries and thoughts about the great philosophers.

"Students have so many ideas and a limitless need for self expression. However, in the lives of teachers and students, there's never enough time to satiate the wonder of inquiring minds," she said. "My rationale was to provide opportunities to share ideas that are vital to life.

"To comprehend what teaching is about it is essential to have a world view of life, and to understand the applications of educational philosophy and learning theory in the context of teacher/student interchange," she said. "You can't teach something you don't understand."

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