| David Solway is essentially a poet, with several publications and prizes, who brings his poetic sensibility to travel (The Anatomy of Arcadia, 1992), and to educational anthropology (Education Lost, 1989 and - now - Lying About the Wolf, 1997). Here, he is appropriately a participant observer, having taught English literature at John Abbott College for quarter of a century. This then is no Tome from the Ivory Tower pontificating about Education but a report from the front lines about teaching. What does he observe from the trenches? |
Students have little knowledge of history. Lacking the fourth dimension of time, they are only three-dimensional. Precariously parked in the present, they cannot advance confidently into the future. This is partly due to the recent shift in emphasis from speech and print to television and computers as our major means of communication. Linear speech and print simulate linear life whereas television and multimedia, as imMEDIAte media, focus on the present.
Students have limited competence in language skills. Language is central to thought which, in turn, is intimately linked to action. We must then watch our language. Inarticulate people will believe absurdities and commit atrocities. This book is therefore not just about articulate speech but about clear thought and civilized action; not just about student in classroom but about person in society.
The greatest lack, however, is not knowledge and skill, but motivation to acquire them. Aided by teachers who sacrifice competence at the altar of self-esteem, students are unwilling to pay their dues to join the community of scholars. The subculture of scholars is a hi-context culture. There is a long and arduous process of acquiring context to enable communication about content. Only good talkers can participate fully in the Great Conversation. This is not elitism. All are welcome to this community but everyone must pay their dues.
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