A Reality Check

                 Mark J. Doorley,   Ph.D.   Villanova University, PA

 received a call the other day from our University Judicial 
Affairs Officer. He asked me to sit on a Judicial Review Board 
for a case involving sexual assault.  I responded affirmatively.  
As I drove home that day, it struck me how "unreal" so much of 
what I do sometimes seems.  I am concerned about explaining Kant's 
Categorical Imperative to my second-year undergraduates.  
Simultaneously, these same students are struggling with issues 
like sexual assault.  There is sometimes a strange disconnect 
between the affairs of the academy and the lives of our students.  
I teach an Ethics course which would seem to be the ideal "space" 
in which to make connections between "real" life and academic work.  
However, that is not always the case; there are times, in fact, that 
I become so engrossed in demonstrating some arcane point that I 
forget the concrete and particular of my life and the lives of my 
students.  I am certainly not advocating that we abandon the various 
arcane points of our academic disciplines, but I am advocating, at 
least to myself, that I need to pay more attention to the reality 
of my students' lives.  Perhaps more important than being able to 
recite verbatim the Categorical Imperative is the ability of my 
students to stand up for themselves in the face of another's 
abuse.  Perhaps it is in encouraging that ability that my "real"  
teaching resides.