Frank Herbert is also a great teacher

The Plowboy Interview: Frank Herbert.

Man, the things I learn about my favorite author Frank Herbert, writer of the Dune book series. This excerpt illustrates an experience he provided his students to inspire them to answer questions he often asks in his books.

So I hit on the idea of taking them out for along weekend hike in the Olympic mountains . . . in the early spring when I knew the weather was going to be cold and rainy. All I told my class was, “We’ll be out in the Olympics for two nights. It’s going to rain. Bring your gear, food, and paper and pencils for taking notes. I’ll meet you at the trail’s head.”…

Once we all got up to our campsite—at a place called the Flats—I set up my tent, dug a drain trench, stashed some firewood under the canopy for the morning, and helped organize the evening meal. We ate and hit the sack . . . and then the rain came. Well, I was quite dry and comfortable in my tent, but a lot of my students weren’t so well prepared: During the night, I heard voices crying, “My sleeping bag’s all wet! ” or “God, it’s cold! ” I simply rolled over and went back to sleep.

The next morning, I got up early and built a big fire. The shivering students soon gathered round, we scrounged together something to eat, and afterward I told them to get their note pads. Then I said, “OK, the bomb just dropped and we’re all that’s left. How much of our former technology do we try to reconstitute?” Well, let me tell you . . . those cold, wet people who had eaten an inadequate breakfast looked at society’s technology a good bit more closely than they had when sitting in a comfortable university classroom. Students who’d been saying things like “Oh sure, I could do without all this stuff” began to ask some basic questions, and to comprehend that technology isn’t bad in and of itself . . . everything depends on how we use it.


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