University of Vermont

Academic Ceremonies - Commencement

Greeting - Taylor SGA President

James M. Taylor, President of the Student Government Association

Jay Taylor

I am not about to try tell you that I learned everything I’ll ever need to know about life in Paul Reinhardt’s Beginner Racquetball class, but I did learn a few very important things.

Important Thing #1 – You learn by “doing”, even if this means “doing” badly.

Important Thing #2 – You often learn more from those around you than from any training, textbook or even lecture.

On day #1 of Beginner Racquetball, Paul gathers the class in one court. He explains the rules of Racquetball, does a quick demo of how to play, cracks a few jokes about how many years more than we’ve even been alive he’s been playing racquet sports, then breaks the class into pairs to go hit around and start playing.

On day #2, and for the rest of the semester, Paul sends the students right onto the courts to play. See Paul’s entire class is based on his philosophy that the only way to learn Racquetball is by playing Racquetball and the only way to play Racquetball is with those around you. I believe this philosophy to be both sound and true, as I assure you that 1-person Racquetball is not nearly as exciting as it sounds and is hardly educational.

Through doing, you learn from your wins and your losses---- and perhaps you even learn about how to handle your wins and your losses with dignity and grace.

Every now and then you will be lucky enough to work with or take a class from someone who not only gets this philosophy, but practices this philosophy as well. Surely you’ve had an opportunity like this at UVM, maybe you’ve been inspired by a Paul Reinhardt, or a David Huddle, or a Pat Brown, or a Stephen Schillinger or one of the many others who have secretly employed this philosophy to get you excited about their topic and accomplish things you never thought you would.

No matter how terrifying it may seem to leave the shelter of the University of Vermont and head out into a world with historic unemployment, bankruptcy, foreclosures, and other scary things, you will always have what you learned by doing and what you learned from those in the fancy robes beside you. Besides what you have already learned, you will always have the ability to learn more by doing and from those beside you.

If you forget this, you just might find out why people don’t play Racquetball by themselves.
You are all incredible, congratulations 2009!!!

Last modified May 25 2009 09:08 AM

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