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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Eric Baylin, Pelican Emeritus

Upper School Art Teacher

Know Your Pelicans
Eric retired in 2021 after teaching for 37 years.

What is your favorite thing about Packer?

The enthusiasm and creativity of the students. I am inspired by their willingness to test the boundaries of their own ideas and their readiness to explore new possibilities. And, of course, their collective sense of humor. I am not sure I would keep coming back without that.

Describe a favorite or memorable moment in your classroom at Packer.

In "Life's Big Questions," my philosophy course for juniors and seniors, a group of teachers came last spring to offer their reflections on being parents. Afterwards, the students responded with thoughtful manifestos of advice for parents, which they shared with the same teachers in a subsequent class. Their exchange of intergenerational wisdom was lively and surprising. It wasn't clear who was learning more from whom. One teacher purportedly hung the students' page of advice for parents on his own refrigerator. A few excerpts:

Trust in letting your child go.

Don't think my experiences will be the same as yours.

Be present in your child's life. Take the time to listen.

Name a book/artwork/piece of music that changed your life and explain how.

In 1975 I traveled to the Dordogne region in France that is home to some of the most remarkable cave art in the world. In a visit to one cave, Font de Gaume, my wife and I were the only visitors that day. We crawled through nearly inaccessible spaces until we arrived at a small chamber deep inside the cave, what seemed to be the sanctum sanctorum. There were a number of animal paintings there but one painting of a bison stood out for me. The sweeping line that described the curve of its back was stunningly beautiful, confidently drawn in a way that evoked the massive volume of the bison. I was transfixed as I felt so connected to this single curving line, as if I had been there in its making, as though I were witnessing firsthand the ancient impulse to create art. I left the cave transformed. That curve drawn some 20,000 years ago is still alive inside me and emerges in my own art.

What is something that most Packer people wouldn't know about you?

Outside of Packer I have taught meditation for 35 years and published numerous articles about the intersection between the spiritual and the secular, which at this point in my life have mostly merged in a seamless way.

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