The Way of Oz
A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Texas Tech University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Enhanced Video Content
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In 1956 (the one hundredth anniversary of L. Frank Baum’s birth), when I was fourteen, the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz began to be shown yearly on television. I was not a great fan of the movie—at first. But, as Oz aficionados know, the movie grows on you. It is rated the number one fantasy film and is tenth among the 100 Greatest Movies of ...
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Numerous people have influenced me in the development of The Way of Oz, including the authors of many books I have read on Oz and L. Frank Baum, along with the authors of many books on human development. But other people I’ve known through my teaching and administrative careers have enriched the Oz landscape and helped to shape my outlook and insight. To all who contributed to ...
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If you take the basic Wizard of Oz story, mix it with the life, loves, and trials of its author, L. Frank Baum, and then blend in themes from his Oz characters—the Scarecrow, who stands for Learning and Wisdom; the Tin Woodman, for Loving or Heart; the Cowardly Lion, for Serving and Courage; Dorothy, for a Focus on the Future; and the Wizard, for Humility—you have the basis for The Way of Oz. ...
I. Oz and Its Creator: Inspiration for The Way of Oz
1: Survey of the Original Oz Book and 1939 Film
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The original Oz book and its derivative stories have intrigued children and adults for generations. The tale of a midwestern girl sojourning to the fantasy world of Oz embodies powerful messages and imagery, bolstered by the 1939 film, which brilliantly contrasts the gray dust-bowl appearance of Aunt Em and Uncle Henry’s farm on the Kansas prairie with the colorful ...
2: L. Frank Baum: An American Polymath
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Frank Baum spent the last fifteen months of his life confined to his bed— writing—being productive even though he was afflicted with a fatal heart condition that had its roots in his childhood. In his book about the fantasy world of Oz, Michael O. Riley says that Baum’s stamina and dedication served him to the end: “For him, his whole life long, living had meant ...
II. The Way of Oz and Learning
3: Learning: An Integrated Perspective
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The “connected order” Maimonides recommended in The Guide for the Perplexed is relevant to our twenty-first-century world, including his timeless advice to “observe, study and seek understanding.” Division chief Rufus E. Miles, Jr. (1910–1996), of the US Bureau of the Budget, coined the aphorism that “where you ...
4: Learning and Reading
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On his hospital deathbed, the great US immigrant physicist Enrico Fermi asked a young but obviously overworked resident, Robert Coles, if he had any time to read. Coles admitted that he was exhausted by his medical duties and didn’t have time for general reading. But that would change, in part because of this conversation Coles had with the dying physicist who found ...
5: Learning and Writing
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Reading is essential to integrated learning, but writing is its core, whether it is published or not. Writing not only forces a high level of involvement and commitment to learning but also is essential to organization and understanding. The landmark book Making the Most of College by Richard J. Light (based on interviews with sixteen hundred ...
6: Learning and Communicating
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Writing in an academic sense is critical to learning. Turning writing into effective communications—oral and written—requires specially honed talents, beginning with style. Communicating with Style: Imagine style as a unique signature that is written across your personality ...
7: Learning and Traveling
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Learning involves a dynamic tension between your inner and outer lives, your thoughts and experiences. Teachers see this tension manifested in their students in various ways. Some are reclusive, consumed by their inner lives, and others are extroverts, who often don’t stop to reflect at all. The balance required to bring learning into sharp focus depends on the reflective life, ...
III. The Way of Oz and Loving
8: Loving: An Integrated Perspective
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Frank Baum would undoubtedly have appreciated Rowan LeCompte’s words about kindness as well as his life and work. As we have seen in his articles for The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, Baum was critical of institutions that send contradictory messages about love and kindness. Even though they lived in different times and generations, Baum and LeCompte would ...
9: Loving and Others
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There is a continuum of affections, attachments, romantic relationships, and devotions when we think about the love of others. Different people, or some of the same people at different times in their lives, will develop bonds with deities, other people, and nature, including creatures in the animal ...
10: Loving and Place
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You might recall Dorothy’s famous final words at the end of the 1939 Wizard of Oz film, “Oh, Auntie Em—there’s no place like home!” At the end of Baum’s 1900 book, she says: “Aunt Em! I’m so glad to be home again.” Baum’s sentiment comes through: a sense of home and the love therein are seminally important to us. Place is a metaphor for an epicenter ...
11: Love of Learning and Self
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If you ask friends and relatives about people who have had the most influence in their lives, they will typically name teachers. If you ask what it was that made these teachers so influential, you are likely to hear such things as “enthusiasm” and “passion for their field of study.” Such comments are common, reflecting not only good teachers’ love of learning but also their ...
IV. The Way of Oz and Serving
12: Serving: An Integrated Perspective
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Let’s think about people who adopt the principles of the Way of Oz. Imagine the hero who balances his commitments to learning, loving, and serving—Baum’s wisdom, heart, and courage—and the heroine who has a similar balance but also brings together the three components into an integrated whole: she learns new ways ...
13: Serving Others
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Altruism. It’s a word for a profound idea, an ethic promoted in most if not all of the world’s religions and a principle many people embrace, including the traditionally religious and humanists alike. The great French philosopher Auguste Compte (1798–1857) coined the word and defined it as the deliberate and morally compelling pursuit of the welfare of others. People ...
14: Serving the Nation and the World
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Seasoned university academic officers will tell you that the most compelling and successful candidates for faculty tenure are those with demonstrable records of service, including prior commitments to programs such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and Teach for America. For confirmation of the link between service and professional accomplishments, take a look at the ...
V. The Way of Oz and a Focus on the Future
15: Focus on the Future: An Integrated Perspective
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Think about the Dorothy figure of the Way of Oz. Like the storied character in Baum’s tales, she is focused, strongwilled, caring, and concerned for the people and other creatures around her. As Evan Schwartz notes, “Dorothy becomes a new kind of hero, a feminine one, sharing her duties ...
16: Personal and Institutional Planning
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The characters of Oz, especially Dorothy, frequently started down the Yellow Brick Road or its equivalent not knowing what the future would bring. In your life you will find yourself in analogous situations but will have opportunities both personally and professionally to hedge your bets through ...
17: Commitments to Diversity, Sustainability,and Understanding Science
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Informed and contributing citizens of democracies in the twenty-first century face a daunting task: how to keep up with societal developments in the context of diversity, sustainability, and science and technology. With prescience, Thomas Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” The ...
18: Democracy and Serving the Planet’s Peoples
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The Land of Oz was hardly a democracy as Frank Baum portrayed it in his original book and as it appeared in the 1939 film. In Baum’s thirteen Oz sequels, Ozma is a benevolent dictator, one who honors diversity and cares deeply about her subjects. She ensures life (every creature is immortal) and happiness (all worthy subjects are guaranteed freedom from want). But of ...
19: Personal Responsibilities
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For Dorothy and the Wizard, Glinda’s insight was twofold: the power for change lies within us, and we can make a difference in the world. Both admonitions are central to the theme of personal responsibility in the Way of Oz. Adopting such principles requires determination and persistence, critical thinking, time management, and the ability ...
VI. The Way of Oz and Humility
20: Humility: An Integrated Perspective
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Think about the dynamics of Frank Baum’s relationship with producer Frederick Hamlin and director Julian Mitchell, during the revision of the stage play of The Wizard of Oz. As author Michael O. Riley said, “Little was left of the original plot [which] became like a thin thread holding various ...
21: Humility among Other Virtues
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Genuine humility guides us to the development of other virtues and character traits that have profound effects on our ability to lead. Integrity, a devotion to ethical principles, empathy, and beneficence are all vital to personal and professional ...
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At this point in your study of the Way of Oz, you are empowered in special ways, not only in enhancing your personal and professional development, but also in using a “Way of Oz telescope” to look at the world in new ways. In your life’s journey you’ll meet many people like the Scarecrow, who are seemingly not very intelligent but often have wisdom and good ideas. Listen ...
Summaries of the Second through Thirteenth L. Frank Baum Oz Sequels
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Biographical Chronology: L. Frank Baum, 1856–1919
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Works Cited and Consulted
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About the Author
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Robert V. Smith has pursued a career as faculty member and administrator at five research universities in the United States. Currently serving as the chief academic officer at Texas Tech University, he is the author of several professional development ...
Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2012