1.20.2009

Education & "Determined Inutility"

Holy cats, this is an important article.

6 comments:

fenhopper said...

i see stability at the pinnacles of philosophical education. those who can convince a few people that they deserve that 'happiness' will get that education. that's how it has always been.

universities are now incorporating apprenticeship and vocational training and it might feel like the humanities are getting pushed out, but they're not really. they're just ebbing back to their original place. when education expanded and was offered more democratically with less of a meritocracy, in order to accommodate and attract the new resources for job training, the humanities expanded as well.

but they're giving way to the training that gave them that growth. the bubble is deflating. it probably won't burst.

everyone got either training or education before. that's still how it works. training has been specialized and now some of it requires 'academic' training. but those who can sit bantering with a tenured professor are still few.

and that's ok. grade inflation because of the draft had it's day. pretty soon grades in the humanities will once again serve as a guide to the benefits of meritocracy, just as they should.

Wishydig said...

fenhopper is an elitist.

what do you think of this commentary from mr. verb who wishes fish would just quit his whining.

i kinda think he has a point.

Casey said...

Most of the time I can't stand Stanley Fish, so I see Mr. Verb's point... I see your point too (Fenhopper's): maybe it's true that there aren't very many people who can comfortably sit and banter with a professor. That's discouraging. I guess I never thought about it that way... what does the role of the professor become, then? Should I spend my livelong days trying to kindle a flame of curiosity or confidence, or should I just teach business writing?

That last question is not even a rhetorical question, btw -- I would never descend to the level of business writing teacher (no offens/ce, Santos). :)

I am determined to waste somebody's time, starting with mine. Nothing practical here. William James' pragmatism is the most practical I get, and that's utterly fantastical nonsense.

Casey said...

No wait: I take it back. At first I glided over that link to Mr. Verb, assuming I knew what it said -- I didn't. I disagree pretty strongly, now that I've read what he's written.

If anything is no longer relevant, it's the idea that we can education college students between the years 2009-2012 for a career that will last until at least 2062 by teaching them practical skills and particular facets of the latest technologies. God help the student who really mastered the abacus (or whatever the latest technological gizmo was back then) in their very practical college classes of 1958.

On the other hand, anyone who appreciated Obama's very successful speech on "Race" (for a very clear example, & because it is a speech that we know Obama wrote himself) would understand that reading Walt Whitman was for Obama an absolutely fundamental part of his education, and any education that would aspire to have lasting impact on the world must include similarly "useless" readings. No practical writing course could/would teach this -- "These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love" -- because no one knows what the world will be like in ten years.

Is the following paragraph from Mr. Verb supposed to oppose the defense of the liberal arts?:

"Yes we can. And yes we will. The ground has shifted beneath Fish and Donoghue, who question the scale of our ambitions, and their stale political arguments no longer apply. Those are the words of a new president, one who was shaped by reading and learning and who thinks, speaks and acts in a way that shows it."

It is precisely because the ground has shifted, and because we anticipate that it will shift even more rapidly in the near future, that a liberal arts education is indispensible -- and Mr. Verb writes too well to be suggesting that Obama is a product of a trade-school-like education. I must be misunderstanding his point. Fish is imploring us to give each student precisely the kind of education President Obama had at Harvard -- tenured faculty, liberal arts curriculum, etc.

Weird.

Wishydig said...

i was completely baffled by this issue. because i'm not really sure what fish is saying that i'm tired of hearing. but i know i'm tired of it.

i think what i hear from him is this tell me if i need to read him more carefully.

we humanities professors used to sit at the cool table. and if we don't then there will be no more humanities professors at any table.

and so i disagree with that.

decal

Casey said...

Interesting. I didn't hear him say that... if he did, he should be dragged out onto a middle school playground to get his ass kicked by a bully.