[lbo-talk] Speaking of University Bashing...

Michael Smith mjs at smithbowen.net
Fri Dec 9 07:46:03 PST 2011

On Fri, 9 Dec 2011 06:50:35 -0500 "shag carpet bomb" <shag at cleandraws.com> wrote:

> oh my god. oh my god. our students must be taught shakespeare in their
> English courses!

Yes. Culture as Vaccination. But if the Credentialling Sector is feeling the bite of this argument now, it's a case of chickens coming home to roost (to mix a metaphor -- still insufficiently caffeinated today).

Part of the CS' propaganda for a long time has been the argument that studying Shakespeare and so on is somehow improving: forms character or builds mental muscles or some such horseshit. Of course the dirty secret is that the only good reason to read is... pleasure.

I belong to a mailing list for people who study or teach Greek & Latin. Most of the folks on it, naturally, are university teachers, with a few who teach secondary school and a couple of oddballs like me who got over the wall but still retain an interest in the subject.

Nearly all the Uni teachers find that they're constantly having to justify their field of study and ward off what have come to be called 'existential threats' to their departments. Oh and the stuff they come up with: citing studies that people who know Latin do better on the GMAT, that kind of thing. Pathetic. Degrading.

That's why I think the truly radical demand is, Education For Pleasure! Pay people to teach and study useless stuff, just for the merry hell of it! It's a bit like Carrol's Abolish Prisons slogan: it's radical because it calls into question all the unexamined assumptions that underly conventional wisdom on the subject.

-- --

Michael J. Smith mjs at smithbowen.net

http://stopmebeforeivoteagain.org http://www.cars-suck.org http://fakesprogress.blogspot.com

Any proposition that seems self-evident is almost certainly false.

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