This page contains articles for a) students who understand that education is an affair that goes on between teacher and student and who therefore might feel that some insight into this affair from the teacher's point of view could be revealing; b) student teachers, both past and future, who might be relieved to know that other voices exist than those heard in the education centres that require your attendance in order to be licensed; and c) colleagues who have perhaps suffered along with me at in-services where technique, theory, and self righteousness seemed to be the guiding forces, and who might be refreshed by the spirit of what first brought them to education.
The following excerpts are from David Solway's inspiring book, Education Lost, published in 1989. Discovering Solway has been, for me, an exciting event. I ordered his book through Chapters on the internet and it came in about 4 days. Gilbert Highet, Jacques Barzun, Northrop Frye, Neil Postman--not many names come to mind in the course of a lengthy teaching career--but David Solway, who teaches at John Abbott College in Quebec, says what too few of us teachers are permitted to hear. He writes with an enviable vocabulary and eloquence, but he is great fun to read if you keep at it. Indeed, his more recent book, Lying About the Wolf,(1997) is a joyous roller coaster ride of language and ideas. He has also, most recently, published a collection of literary essays, Ripostes, which offers the same breathtaking command of language. His poetry can be sampled on the Atlantic Unbound website (see Links).
Education as "Transformative Rite"
The Elements of a Teacher
The Good Teacher
Mark Lilla on "The Politics of Jacques Derrida"
This lucid description of the history and present state of "deconstruction" should appeal to those interested in the ideological underpinnings of the English Language Arts Curriculum about to be implemented in all four Atlantic Provinces. Is this an ideology most Nova Scotians will be happy with?
The following three excerpts come from David Lehman's Signs of the Times, a cogent study and history of Deconstruction, that French theory whose jargon so inspires the new Atlantic Provinces Language Arts Curriculum Guide. Lehman spends much of the book on deflating the reputation of Paul DeMan, a leading influence in American deconstruction. The following pieces focus on the central ideas and the linguistic jargon which insulates them from criticism and mystifies the uninitiated.
David Lehman's Deconstructive Decalogue.
This is an outstanding 10 point introduction to the main ideas of deconstruction.
The Orwellian Element in Deconstruction
-an extended discussion of this age's Newspeak (see also "Bad Writing Contest" on Grammar-page for more, as well as the "Postmodern Generator" on Links-page).
The Disturbing Element in Deconstruction
-a brief sense of why teachers might not welcome the effects of "theory" in the classroom.
High School 2000: Read Elinor Burkett's reflections on becoming a high school student at age 55
Nineteen Theses on Literature by Roger Shattuck
Here Mr Shattuck posts those principles which the deconstructing "textualists" are doing their best to undermine. See more on this topic on the Literary Criticism page
Roger Shattuck's first two chapters of his Candor and Perversion revisits his "Nineteen Theses On Reading" followed by a call for the return of educational sanity in designing English curriculae
The Authority of the Teacher, by Northrop Frye.
Not everyone knows. Frye knows. I remember the lecturer from Mt. A telling me that Frye was old hat. May I never get that smart.
Northrop Frye on the primacy of poetry in the English classroom
Wayne Booth on Emotion And Reason.
Booth goes back to enlarge the definition of Reason. This interesting discussion makes me think of the way some use Howard Gardiner's "multiple intelligences" to depreciate "intellect" in the schools.
Christina Hoff Sommers on the need for moral reeducation
Sommers is an ethics professor whose previous book Who Stole Feminism? created a stir among certain sorts of feminist. Why has my English Teachers' Association never invited anyone resembling Sommers to speak at our yearly conferences?
Christina Hoff Sommers' Atlantic Monthly article, "Girls Rule", which calls attention to the way the media helps activist professors promote myths of their own making.
Christina Hoff Sommers in a 1998 lecture which covers similar ground to the Atlantic piece, but with some extra anecdotes.
The Lecture: A Tool for Intellectual Liberation
If Northrop Frye, or David Solway, or Noam Chomsky gave a class, or a course, would you want to be put into groups or listen to him?
Neil Postman is the author of over two dozen books, from the early Teaching as a Subversive Activity to the more recent Amusing Ourselves to Death, and Technopoly, expressing concern over the ways television and computer might actually limit our chance of an education.
"My Graduation Speech" -wherein Mr Postman explains the difference between Athenian and Visigoth
"Informing Ourselves to Death" -wherein Mr Postman considers that essential(ist) question: what is worth knowing?
A Booknotes interview with Neil Postman on his Technopoly
Roger Kimball considers the death of history by relativism: a bracing look at the teaching of History in the academy
Roger Kimball describes an art establishment that needs to reconnect with Beauty: a taste of what art schools are dishing up these days
Read a cogent review of Roger Kimball's new book Experiments Against Reality: The Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age
Camille Paglia understands postmodern life as well as anyone but she also knows the importance of literary tradition: "The Mighty River of Classics"
An American teacher of journalism wonders about the practical effects of self-esteem theory
Why Johnny Can't Fail - Jerry Jesness on the floating standards of New Age Education
On Francine Prose's Survey of High School Book Lists
Andrew Delbanco on "The Decline and Fall of Literature" - an interesting history of English studies, its present condition, and the need to remember Emerson and Arnold. ("...by failing to promote literature as a means by which students may become aware of their unexamined assumptions and glimpse worlds different from their own, the self-consciously radical English department has become a force for conservatism").
The decline and fall of art studies, and the intellectual impoverishment that inspires shlock art, is explored in this 4page interview with Lynne Munson
Thomas Sowell offers a dramatic idea for improving education
Joseph Epstein discourses on his experience teaching Henry James. Here is a class worth seeking out, and an approach to teaching worth being reminded of.
Daphne Patai reviews the current state of Women's Studies in American Universities
Jacques Barzun, the lone light in my education year ('72), writes a history of Western Civilization at age 92! Read what he says about schools, teachers...
Robert Grudin's thoughts on education include a meditation on "fun" and putting in a good word or two for ridicule and its cousins.
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