INMATE PROGRAMS/EDUCATION

“Another wonderful educational class sponsored by Kansas Arts In Prison: Philosophy professor brings about 15 of her students to have class at the prison ” By Paul Stotts

On Wednesday evening for the past 5 weeks I’ve been attending a Philosophy class with an Arts In Prison volunteer that comes in to teach. He is a former Philosophy professor at a local college, however his day job is currently as an attorney.
This last week, class was perticularly eventful. Our facilitator brought about 15 college students, as well as a professor that was the head of a Philosophy department to discuss philosophy related questions. Basically it was hanging out with a bunch of college students discussing philosophically fun questions. It made for a really enjoyable time. My interactions for the past 11 years with people other than staff and other prisoners has been extreamly limited. This was a first for me.
The first question we discussed was if there was a pill you could take, and it would lengthen your life for as long as you keep taking it, would you take it and also make it available for others. If you stopped taking it, you would age normally again.
I said that I wouldn’t take the pill. I feel that it would have implications of class disparity… as we already know, the rich tend to get richer and the poor tend to stay in poverty. So it would worry me who would be granted accesss to this pill, and the power struggle it could create which could lead to major events that could negatively shape history. I also think it’s important to enjoy and cherish every minute of your life, if you extended it indeffinitly, I feel that would take some of the magic and joy associated with living and cherishing every monents.
I also enjoyed learning a bit about what it’s like to be a college student in this day and age. I’ve taken about 45 credit hours over the past 8 years and getting very close to an associates degree. I’m very lucky to have been granted several scholorships as well as have support to pay for these expensive classes. Many of the students told me about how they have a great deal of debt as they have taken student loans. Many of them seemed worried about getting these paid back. I didn’t realise how big of a deal student debt is and how majorily it is stressing and effecting the studetns.
The group was set into three circles of chairs, we spent about 30 minutes in each group discussing different philosophical questions. It was just super cool to be able to hang out with some really nice college students for a few hours. They all were so polite and interested in learning a bit about philosophy, but also a bit about the prison system. Several of the students shared how incarceration had effected their family, with one womens dad being a seven time felon, another women having had a brother that did time.
At the end of the class, I went to shake the philosophy professors hand. She reached in and asked if she could hug me, and did. She told me I really knew my stuff and was just like any of her other students. It was a moment that really left an impact on me and make me feel really good! This world has so many wonderful people, and I was blessed to meet one last Wednesday.
Lansing is really stepping up when it comes to programs lately. It’s really a great thing, espically when you like to spend time on activities like this, as I do.

Paul Stotts
DOC #93319

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6 replies »

  1. Paul! I was also one of the students that attended this philosophy class and I really enjoyed it. I like the fact that many of you had some interesting things to say. This was one of the best experiences I have had in my life time. Thank you again for having us. I hope to see you and your fellow friends again!

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    • Yasmine Hora I passed your comment on to Paul. He wanted to tell you, Paul
      “Yasmine, thanks for the very kind words. It’s funny; I remember exactly who you are because of your unique name. I remember asking again how to pronounce it because I wanted to get it right. So that was one of the best experiences you’ve had? That is awesome! An evening like that is not the norm for prison, so I’ve got to say, it was one of the most exciting evenings I’ve had in years! So thank you for helping make that special. . I remember you mentioning that your father had been through some hardships, was he able to find a way to make it work? I’d be interested in hearing about some of the things he found to work if you’re open to it. Have a great one.” Paul

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  2. Paul, I as well was one of those students in that class and nothing makes me happier than hearing how much you got out of this! I honestly had such a blast speaking to every single one of you in this class. I can tell you have a huge future with the way you’re doing what you’re doing! Thank you for making this experience a great one!

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  3. Paul,
    I was one of the participants in the class. I teach art, philosophy, and writing at a couple different colleges and universities in the area. It was really nice to meet all of you and to hear your perspectives on the issues we were discussing. It is refreshing to get to interact with people who are invested in considering and discussing these kinds of issues. I am currently working on developing a class that would allow some of my students to come work on a collaborative art project with some of the residents of Lansing. I certainly hope our paths cross again. Good luck to you.

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  4. Paul, I love reading your reports on your classes. It sounds like you love to learn and be challenged- keep it up, there’ll be bright future for you after prison.

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