Repost-‘From Stanley Fish At The NY Times Blog: What Should Colleges Teach?’

Full post here.

Fish reminds us of a simple idea:  college writing courses ought to focus primarily on writing…:

“…the students spent much of their time discussing novels, movies, TV shows and essays on a variety of hot-button issues — racism, sexism, immigration, globalization.

Perhaps at the cost of their writing skills.  Yet, is Fish just going after the easy targets (where political and ideological aims often take precedence) in quoting the ACTA report?:

“Thirty-five years ago there was no such thing as a gay and lesbian studies program; now you can build a major around it. For some this development is a sign that a brave new world has arrived; for others it marks the beginning of the end of civilization.”

“It probably is neither; curricular alternatives are just not that world-shaking.”

Perhaps not.  He highlights what he seems to consider the most insightful bit of wisdom the report (with its own aims) has to offer:

“An “important benefit of a coherent core curriculum is its ability to foster a ‘common conversation’ among students, connecting them more closely with faculty and with each other.”

Perish the thought.  People are texting, typing, writing code, and there is a lot of creativity going on the design side of software right now, which is, at the very least, providing a vessel for good writing.

Will you watch a 1 hr. 30 minute video?  Probably not, but I think it offers ideas on how we decide what’s important to read, to think about, and which ideas to pass along.  In it,  Terry Eagleton, Marxist, is debating Roger Scruton, a British philosopher focusing on aesthetics and the humanities, and generally conservative:  What do British universities keep, and what do they leave behind?  What is culture, and what should one read, think, and feel in order to pass that culture on?:

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This blog’s theory (take it, leave it, critique it) is that American culture since the rise of the 1960’s has been deeply influenced by certain strains of Continental philosophy and thought, perhaps more so than previously, and that it’s been spilling out into the culture and our politics.

Addition:  Of course, as Camille Paglia points out, movies, T.V., popular music etc. arguably is the culture for a great many Americans.  Fish also feels the need to defend his justification of writing in the post.

Another Addition:  Fish responds to his critics.  If we were all held to such standards in our writing…

See Also On This Site:  Conservative Briton Roger Scruton suggests keeping political and aesthetic judgments apart in the humanities: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Fish suggested keeping politics out of academia during the Ward Churchill affair:  From The Stanley Fish Blog: Ward Churchill Redux

Martha Nussbaum tried to tackle the humanities problem a while back: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

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