While teaching Philosophy and Ethics courses as an adjunct instructor at RACC, Dr. John Morgan said a student suggested he write a book based on the way he teaches his classes – and he did.
A Teacher, His Students, and the Great Questions of Life tells the story of a teacher, Plotimus, and his students dealing with eleven great questions of life.
"The book is based on the learning experiences in the classes I taught at RACC, which, in turn, were based on the early liberal arts schools of Plato and Aristotle in Greece," he said. "The classes were interactive, using dialog, a few lectures and student projects. It was participatory."
The book has strong ties to RACC, including the cover photo of Dr. Morgan along with RACC students in the College's meditation garden, which was a concept developed in one of his classes. Also, the preface was written by Dr. Linda Lewis Riccardi, an adjunct professor of philosophy at RACC.
Dr. Morgan was an administrator at RACC during its early years, and he taught the College's very first philosophy class. He then left RACC to pursue two master's degrees and a doctorate, as well as work in different areas of the community.
Dr. Morgan later returned to RACC and spent almost eight years as an adjunct instructor. He has also taught at several other colleges and universities and at a theological school.
One of the ideas that Dr. Morgan frequently proposed during his RACC classes is that children are natural philosophers because of all of their questions. He was an inquisitive child himself. "My mother once told me that I was always asking questions and she was a patient person who listened and encouraged me," he said. "I still have a lot of questions and I hope some of the wonder and joy of asking them that I had as a child.
"Aristotle said philosophy begins in wonder, and I hope I have kept that wonder alive," he added.
During his time at RACC, Dr. Morgan encouraged his students to become involved with children in the community, which led to the creation of the RACC Readers. The first year, students from one of his philosophy classes visited Tyson Schoener Elementary School to read to children. The following year, students read to the kids in RACC's Education Laboratory Center.
"Being involved in the community is part of what it means to me to be a philosopher," Dr. Morgan said. "I also am someone who believes in the word 'community' in RACC. It should be the heart of what RACC is and does, what makes it unique."
While Dr. Morgan enjoys writing books, he said it's the students and their memories that he will always carry with him. "Their stories of overcoming sometimes incredible obstacles to pursue learning–– they were an inspiration to me," he said.
"I'd have to write an encyclopedia to cover all the stories students told in my classes," Dr. Morgan added. "In fact, from where I often sit at my desk at home, I keep a picture of two children of a former student. On the back she wrote: 'You've given me many stories to share with' my children. Actually I have collected more stories from students than they from me."
Along with this latest book, Dr. Morgan has also published seven other books, most recently Psychology of Death and Dying and Dear Brothers: Letters Facing Death. While recently finding success with his books, his first published works were short articles and poems. "I papered my walls with rejection slips for some time, but didn't give up," he said. "Writing well is tough work but incredibly rewarding."
Dr. Morgan's most recent books are available on the publisher's website at www.wipfandstock.com. The print version and Kindle book can also be found on Amazon.com.