Corny but cool

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2″ in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full?

They agreed it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He then asked once more if
the jar was full.

The students responded with a unanimous, “YES”.

The professor then picked a bottle of red wine from under the table and proceeded to pour the entire contents into the jar effectively filling
the empty space between the sand.

The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The rocks are the important things – your family, your health, your friends – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car.

The sand is everything else – the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend
all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to care about your health. Go out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, and fix the disposal.

Take care of the rocks first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

I don’t remember Bob doing this, but if he did I think he would have drunk the red wine!

7 thoughts on “Corny but cool

  1. I wonder if there are any SOBs out there who remember the time…

    I was teaching an introductory class in philosophy and we were talking about epistemology: knowing, believing, evidence, epistemic qualifiers, and the like. One day in class a student challenged my spelling of some word and I bet her a bottle of Kokanee that I was right.

    Next lecture: student who lost the bet comes to the front of the class and presents me with a bottle of Kokanee. I open it and proceed to drink it while continuing the discussion of belief, knowledge, etc. I notice that some of the “mature” students seem a little upset, particularly one who was suddenly and for the first time taking copious notes.

    Believing in the principle that a good offense is the best defense I concocted a story to explain the presence of the bottle of beer in the classroom. I told my dean that I was running an “experiment” in class and needed his assistance in completing the lesson. I described how I had a plant who had made the bet, brought the bottle of beer to class, and how we had emptied it before class and filled it with apple juice before re-capping the bottle.

    Sure enough, one student had sent a letter to the dean complaining that one of her instructors had been drinking in class. So, the next day the dean came to class with me and told them: “I have had a serious complaint about the instructor in this class and I want to get all the evidence from you while it is still fresh in your minds. Based on the information I will then take appropriate steps of discipline.”

    He went on to question the class; it went something like this:

    D: “Did he drink beer in class?”
    SOB: “Yes, he opened the bottle and swigged from it for the rest of the lecture.”
    SOB2: “But, how do you KNOW he drank beer?”
    SOB: “It was a Kokanee and he opened it and drank!”
    SOB: “That doesn’t prove anything; how do you KNOW it was beer??”
    Etc. etc.

    Finally the class came to the conclusion that the most they could say with confidence was that the instructor had indeed opened a beer bottle and drunk something from it. They might believe that it was beer, but it could have been something else!

    The SOB that brought the class around to that insight is now a lawyer in town.

    I never told the dean that it was a double hoax.

    It was a tasty “apple juice” and the student who sent the letter talked to me about it after and reported that almost all of the students had guessed that she was the “squealer” and were giving her a hard time. I did straighten that out in class by describing part of the entire episode as a teaching stunt.


  2. Pingback: March’s Letter from South America | Episyllogism

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