20.603 ruining lives

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 2 May 2007 07:03:16 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 603.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 02 May 2007 06:58:33 +0100
         From: lachance_at_chass.utoronto.ca
         Subject: Re: 20.599 ruining lives


In reference to the "ruined lives" thread, is there not a hint of the
hubris of marketing if one is to grant credence to conversion narratives?
That is there surely are other ways to celebrate great professors than
attributing to them the almost saintly features of influencing vocations.
In short, is it not worth marketing the offerings of educational
institutions not only by the talents of the teaching staff but also by the
quality of the peer interaction?

I offer from the clippings file the observation from an article by James
Cummings "'Digital kids' make virtual advances in kindergarten" (Toronto
Star May 26, 2001 p. M6). Cummings is reporting on a description of the
next generation put forth by Douglas Rushkoff. One need not accept the
discursive move to a then-and-now generational shift to accept the
optismism, no need for an "on the other hand".

Today's children, on the other hand, are snowboarders. They don't expect a
smooth path and they seek out the irregularities, using obstacles as ramps
and hurdles to intensify their experience.

And one need not swallow the hype ["They are digital kids -- children not
just of a new generation, but of a new era."] to have faith.

Marketing academic programs in the future will be perhaps in the vein of
less is more. The programs offer a retreat, time and place to co-explore.
A humanist should in my opinion be loath to assume that students come to
the conversation without their own histories and desires. They have a
sense of their own trajectories or are capable of independently developing
the arc of their life paths.

The academic program is _not_ a bridge to somewhere. It is an event, a
festival of events. "Where do you want to go today?" was an advertising
slogan. Was. It is of the past. In the future, I will warrant that the
question will be "what do you want to do today" and so ressemble more and
more kindgarten for grownups. And sometimes the festival involves field
trips and does ask (but not everyday) the question about where to. The
answer it seems more and more is "home" in the sense of belonging to a a
distributed community of engaged intellectuals and passionate scholars
whether they spend long periods within the walls of the academy.

Thank you for your kind indulgence as I seek clumsily to find a suitable
peroration to this rant.

[Insert virtual tour or reference to Library of Congress architecture of
the First Floor North Corridor
The penetrations in the vault above the paintings contain the surnames of
distinguished men of education throughout the world. On the north side,
left to right, they are: FROEBEL, PESTALOZZI, ROUSSEAU, COMENIUS, and
ASCHAM. On the south side, above the columns and arches lending to the
Great Hall, they are: HOWE, GALLAUDET, MANN, ARNOLD, and SPENCER.
finis virtual tour]
Received on Wed May 02 2007 - 02:16:53 EDT

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