Discovery in Walker Percy's The Term Paper

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Adopting the first author's ("Monkey Management") fresh perspective about his Management class, I also tried to envision myself as the author/student in "Finding," who is now facing the challenge of discovering the Creature in his class. Given my flexible nature and open-minded outlook in experiencing new challenges, I supposed that in "Finding," I would become interested on the fact that the class will become extraordinary given the conflicting nature of the course and the students. Thus, I would envision myself as a spectator who is always on the look-out of possible clashes that may happen between the teacher and my classmates. Of course, I will not become a passive audience to this mysterious class interaction: I will play my part as a student-discoverer-spectator, looking out for the Creature through my interaction with the teacher and my classmates as both a student and a spectator.

Of course, what happened to the author of "Finding" is what I had just expected, if applied in the real classroom setting. Indeed, the author found disappointment in the fact that majority of the students were not interested in the subject matter, worsened by the fact that the author observed that their teacher is not interested in teaching. The lack of interest in both parties (students and teacher) resulted to the loss of the Creature.

In my opinion, however, what happened is not a loss, but the rejection of the Creature. The author knows that there is much to be discovered, much to be learned about the course. Yet, the class environment hindered this. The people inside the class are unaware of the fact that the Creature lurks behind the formal set-up and discourse between the teacher and students. Only the author, who had endeavored to find the Creature, felt its loss and utter rejection. A thoughtful insight results from this experience: the author of "Finding" learned that in the real classroom setting, what prevails is not the Creature and everything it stands for, but the "manipulation" of the "material presented" in order to obtain the desired outcome of the class 'actors': for the students, their grade, and for the teacher, to get his/her job done for the semester.

The top essay about discovering the Creature in my list is Bronwyn Summers' essay. As a political science student, Summers have effectively expressed to his audience how the Creature is best experienced outside the confines of classrooms.

Summers' essay would have been similar to the others, and I could have bypassed his essay had I not read through the last part of his essay. In the last paragraph of his essay, Summers learned to make his failure over discovering the Creature into a triumph by looking for it outside the classroom. Summers is right; there are things that cannot be discovered and learned profoundly within the classroom, especially if, as in his case, the subject matter concerns "atoms," "cellular respiration," among others, facts and information given to students through "superficial" means.

Summers has found and discovered Percy's lost Creature upon stepping out of the classroom. The insatiable need to discover the Creature, coupled with reflections and critical thinking allowed him to finally realize that the Creature is present in people's everyday lives. As what the author had testified in the essay, "I went beyond what...class had to offer. I made my own syllabus and learned...outside the classroom. This was the essence of discovery." I could not agree more with Summers' insights.

As the previous essays have also demonstrated, sometimes the discovery of the Creature depends on the attitude and outlook of the individual looking for it. That is, Percy's Creature is never lost; for me, it is everywhere, in every experience that every individual has. It is just up to us, discoverers and potential learners, to find out a way to look for the Creature. Should failure of finding and discovering it happens to us, it is also up to us to make these failures a challenge to find new ways to seek the elusive Creature. Eventually, as what Summers had experienced, the Creature will present itself in the most profound manner. This, and I quote Summers, "the essence of discovery."[continue]

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