Mark Edmundson's essay "On the Uses of a Liberal Education."
On the uses of a liberal education: 1. as lite entertainment for bored college students. September 1, 1997 Harper's Magazine. Mark Edmundson. A college student ...
Eliot as hero, a series of generic replies rolled in, one gray wave after the next my father, my best friend, a doctor who lives in our town, my high school history teacher. But why should a worthy administrator contract the likes of susan sontag, christopher hitchens, or robert hughes -- someone who might actually say something, something disturbing, something offensive -- when he can get what the parents and kids apparently want and what the newspapers will softly commend -- more lire entertainment, more tv? Is it a surprise, then, that this generation of students -- steeped in consumer culture before going off to school, treated as potent customers by the university well before their date of arrival, then pandered to from day one until the morning of the final kiss-off from kermit or one of his kin -- are inclined to see the books they read as a string of entertainments to be placidly enjoyed or languidly cast down? Given the way universities are now administered (which is more and more to say, given the way that they are currently marketed), is it a shock that the kids dont come to school hot to learn, unable to bear their own ignorance? For some measure of self-dislike, or self-discontent -- which is much different than simple depression -- seems to me to be a prerequisite for getting an education that matters. Just as universities must compete with one another for students, so must the individual departments.
But i wonder, are we really getting students ready for socratic exchange with professors when we push them off into vast lecture rooms, two and three hundred to a class, sometimes face them with only grad students until their third year, and signal in our myriad professorial ways that we often have much better things to do than sit in our offices and talk with them? How bad will the student-faculty ratios have to become, how teeming the lecture courses, before we hear students righteously complaining, as they did thirty years ago, about the impersonality of their schools, about their decline into knowledge factories? This is a firm, said mario savio at berkeley during the free speech protests of the sixties, and if the board of regents are the board of directors,. But to subvert the views of our students, our customers, that would be something else again. As northrop frye says in a beautiful and now dramatically unfashionable sentence, the artist who uses the same energy and genius that homer and isaiah had will find that he not only lives in the same palace of art as homer and isaiah, but lives in it at the same time.
By rebelling against established ways of seeing and saying things, genius helps us to apprehend how malleable the present is and how promising and fraught with danger is the future. Many, male and female both, peep from beneath the bills of monogrammed baseball caps. My students answers didnt exhibit any philosophical resistance to the idea of greatness.
As for myself, im canning my low-key one-liners when the kids tv-based tastes come to the fore, ill aim and shoot. For a class of mine he wrote an essay using nietzsches apollo and dionysus to analyze the pop group the supremes. Students worry that taking too many chances with their educations will sabotage their future prospects.
Its that at american universities, left-liberal politics have collided with the ethos of consumerism. And suddenly college became a buyers market. Naturally, there are exceptions, kids i chat animatedly with, who offer a joke, or go on about this or that new cd (almost never a book, no).
We argue animatedly about the caliber of potential colleagues. By embracing the works and lives of extraordinary people, you can adapt new ideals to revise those that came courtesy of your parents, your neighborhood, your clan -- or the tube. If you want to do a frankfurt school-style analysis of braveheart, you can be pretty sure that by mid-class adorno and horkheimer will be consigned to the junk heap of history and youll be collectively weighing the charms of mel gibson. To me, one of the best things about democratic thinking is the conviction that genius can spring up anywhere. The humanities now must struggle to attract students, many of whose parents devoutly wish they would study something else.
Why Teach?: In Defense of a Real Education: Mark Edmundson ...
Why Teach?: In Defense of a Real Education [Mark Edmundson] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Mark Edmundson's essays reclaim college not as the ...
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Students worry that taking too many chances with their educations will sabotage their future prospects. A trite, cultural-studies bonbon? Not at all.
On evaluation day, i reap the rewards of my partial compliance with the culture of my students and, too, Everythings a slick counterfeit, a simulacrum.
By continuing to notice and praise genius, Cultural studies becomes nothing better than what its detractors claim it is -- madonna studies -- when students kick loose from the critical perspective and groove to the product.
But such improvements shouldnt be surprising. At some of the small liberal-arts colleges, the tradition of strong engagement persists.
We have a new aquatics center and ever-improving gyms, stocked with stairmasters and nautilus machines. What about the phenomenon called political correctness? Raising the standard of civility and tolerance in the university has been -- who can deny it? -- a very good thing.
Why Read?: Mark Edmundson: 9781582346083: Amazon.com: Books
In english, we dont give many ds, or cs for that matter. I want them to measure themselves against what theyve read. Some have been doing it nearly as long as, if more crudely than, their deconstructionist teachers. These will be people who live for easy pleasures, for comfort and prosperity, who think of money first, then second, and third, who hug the status quo people who believe in god as a sort of insurance policy (cover your bets) people who are never surprised. A professor at stanford recently explained grade inflation in the humanities by observing that the undergraduates were getting smarter every year the higher grades simply recorded how much better they were than their predecessors.
Those who play best on it are low-key and nonassertive they blend in. Theyll claim to be happy, and theyll live a long time. I teach at the famously conservative university of virginia. For the pervading view is the cool consumer perspective, where passion and strong admiration are forbidden. Perhaps it would be a good idea to try firing the counselors and sending half the deans back into their classrooms, dismantling the football team and making the stadium into a playground for local kids, emptying the fraternities, and boarding up the student-activities office.
They will be people so pleased with themselves (when theyre not in despair at the general pointlessness of their lives) that they cannot imagine humanity could do better. On good days they display a light, appealing glow on bad days, shuffling disgruntlement. Tv is calmly self-interested though never greedy, attuned to the conventions, and ironic. My students didnt ask for that view, much less create it, but they bring a consumer weltanschauung to school, where it exerts a powerful, and largely unacknowledged, influence. For the truth is that these students dont need debunking theories. Im getting back to a more exuberant style ill be expostulating and arm waving straight into the millennium, yes i will. I do not like the forms themselves, with their number ratings, reminiscent of the sheets circulated after the tv pilot has just played to its sample audience in burbank. Tv, marshall mcluhan famously said, is a cool medium. We might extend his comment to ask if the poems music coheres with its argument. Their presences tend to be very light they almost never change the temperature of the room.Why Read? [Mark Edmundson] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. •A PSLA Young Adult Top 40 (or so) non-fiction title 2004 In this important book ...
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Theres a new emphasis on group projects and on computer-generated exchanges among the students. Rather, they have substantially created a university environment in which facile skepticism can thrive without being substantially contested. We support a star system, in which some professors are far better paid, teach less, and under better conditions than the rest. So dont sound off, dont blow your chance. When someone says she enjoyed the course -- and that word crops up again and again in my evaluations -- somewhere at the edge of my immediate complacency i feel encroaching self-dislike.
How does one prosper with the present clientele? Many of the most successful professors now are the ones who have decentered their classrooms Buy now Edmundson Essay
Martens, with now and then a stylish pair of raised-sole boots on one of the young women. Declaration of independence endorses the turning of his university into a sports-and-fitness emporium. Visigoth hordes that cracked romes walls. You stephen seems interested in the music of the poem. One friend describes it as rebound teaching they proffer a weightless comment, you hit it back for all youre worth, then it comes dribbling out again.
How did my students reach this peculiar state in which all passion seems to be spent? I think that many of them have imbibed their sense of self from consumer culture in general and from the tube in particular. Yet i have to admit that i do not much like the image of myself that emerges from these forms, the image of knowledgeable, humorous detachment and bland tolerance Edmundson Essay Buy now
This generations style is considerate, easy to please, and a touch depressed. From time to time i bump into a colleague in the corridor and we have what ive come to think of as a joon lee fest. At its best, multiculturalism can be attractive as well-deployed theory. But they also want other people to have a fair shot. There are, of course, terrific students everywhere.
Some have been doing it nearly as long as, if more crudely than, their deconstructionist teachers. But overall, the students strike me as being sweet and sad, hovering in a nearly suspended animation. Occasionally a professor will try to explain away this intellectual timidity by describing the students as perpetrators of postmodern irony, a highly sophisticated mode Buy Edmundson Essay at a discount
Tv is calmly self-interested though never greedy, attuned to the conventions, and ironic. A sure result of the universitys widening elective leeway is to give students more power over their teachers. The dress is nondescript clothes are in earth tones shoes are practical -- cross-trainers, hiking boots, work shoes, dr. At the university of vermont, whoopi goldberg laid down the word. If we teachers do not endorse genius and self-overcoming, can we be surprised when our students find their ideal images in tvs latest persona ads? A world uninterested in genius is a despondent place, whose sad denizens drift from coffee bar to prozac dispensary, unfired by ideals, by the glowing image of the self that one might become Buy Online Edmundson Essay
For the truth is that these students dont need debunking theories. But in our professional lives per se, we arent usually disposed against the idea of distinguished achievement. If the clientele dislikes you en masse, you can be left without students, period. If its new -- a new need, a new product, a new show, a new style, a new generation -- it must be good. Oscar was cheerful funny, confident, strange.
In 1968, more than 21 percent of all the bachelors degrees conferred in america were in the humanities by 1993, that number had fallen to about 13 percent. Students can also float in and out of classes during the first two weeks of each term without making any commitment. Bambi and i chatted amiably awhile, but for all that she and the pleasure of her name could offer, i was fast on the way to meltdown Buy Edmundson Essay Online at a discount
And they werent the ones responsible, when they were six and seven and eight years old, for unplugging the tv set from time to time or for hauling off and kicking a hole through it. Joon lee is one of the best students ive taught. Hes endlessly curious, has read a small librarys worth, seen every movie, and knows all about showbiz and entertainment. Wordsworths tintern abbey, you ask for comments. I have to admit that im a touch wary, too.
I received, by my request only, in the late sixties were austere affairs full of professors credentials and course descriptions it was clear on whose terms the enterprise was going to unfold. For someone growing up in america now, there are few available alternatives to the cool consumer worldview Edmundson Essay For Sale
Cultural studies becomes nothing better than what its detractors claim it is -- madonna studies -- when students kick loose from the critical perspective and groove to the product, and that, in my experience teaching film and pop culture, happens plenty. If you want to do a frankfurt school-style analysis of braveheart, you can be pretty sure that by mid-class adorno and horkheimer will be consigned to the junk heap of history and youll be collectively weighing the charms of mel gibson. Students frequently come to my office to tell me how intimidated they feel in class the thought of being embarrassed in front of the group fills them with dread. Universities need to attract the best (that is, the smartest and the richest) students in order to survive in an ever more competitive market For Sale Edmundson Essay
So we put aside the african novelist chinua achebes abrasive, troubling things fall apart and gravitate toward hymns on africa, cradle of all civilizations. By embracing the works and lives of extraordinary people, you can adapt new ideals to revise those that came courtesy of your parents, your neighborhood, your clan -- or the tube. They believe that genius and tradition are out and that p. Those who dont like you can simply avoid you. From the start, the contemporary universitys relationship with students has a solicitous, nearly servile tone.
Students should be able to run a critical commentary against the stream of consumer stimulations in which theyre immersed. If we want to understand current universities, with their multiple woes, we might try leaving the realms of expert debate and fine ideas and turning to the classrooms and campuses, where a new kind of weather is gathering Sale Edmundson Essay
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