His 25 new students, most of them sophomores, were barely awake. All of them were there to fulfill their philosophy requirement. None was excited to be there.
“You might be wondering what this class is about,” the old man continued in a cadence that said he done this many times before.
“In this class, you will discover the meaning of life.”
“What is so funny?” he asked.
No one said a word.
“Ladies and gentlemen, that was not a rhetorical question. Who can tell me what is so funny about what I said?”
He waited for an answer. A few seconds later, a student raised her hand. Dumont looked at her and nodded.
“It sounds absurd,” she said, prompting more snickers.
“Exactly,” the old man said, clasping his hands together. “And why does the absurd sometimes make us laugh?”
These were the first of many questions Professor Dumont would pose to his students that semester. By the end of that first class, following his lead, his students would begin posing their own questions.
Soon, they began questioning everything. Their questions were thoughtful and incisive and didn’t always lend themselves to easy answers. One question often led to another, and they pursued the answers together, as if they were on a scavenger hunt. In the process, they went deeper and deeper, searching for one truth after another.
Finally, in the last class of the semester, one student reminded Dumont that he had said at the outset they would discover the meaning of life.
“But you already have,” he said with a smile. “It is to question.”