Many lecturers and professors are privately quite appalled by the rise of creative writing in universities. They believe, for very good reasons, that it is not compatible with the study of literary texts: works of literature demand rigorous critical attention, a strong understanding of the workings of the English language, a good grasp of historical context, an abiding respect and love for tradition (including a firm knowledge of literary genres), and an impartial aesthetic and intellectual curiosity about the great artistic accomplishments of others. Such teachers are often, indeed, sharply opposed to the idea that creative writing could be part of proper university study. They certainly would not be willing to teach a course with any creative writing component and, secretly, quite possibly wish their creative writing colleagues would die horrible deaths, with the senior management in their universities deciding not to advertise for replacements.
Despite the speed and apparent smoothness with which creative writing has become incorporated into English departments, or (especially in the US) as a separate department alongside English, its institutionalisation is complex and deceptive. It is obvious, however, that its recent and remarkable expansion is closely bound up with the marketisation of higher education, especially in the US and the UK. Once you start thinking of “the student” as “the customer”, and once the customer’s own preferences are “prioritised” (to echo the business-speak that has come to prevail), it is inevitable that you should expect to see more courses in creative writing than in, say, medieval English prose or 18th-century pastoral verse.
@3 weeks ago with 135 notes
The best part of the rise of online education is that it forces us to ask: What is a university for?
Are universities mostly sorting devices to separate smart and hard-working high school students from their less-able fellows so that employers can more easily identify them? Are universities factories for the dissemination of job skills? Are universities mostly boot camps for adulthood, where young people learn how to drink moderately, fornicate meaningfully and hand things in on time?
My own stab at an answer would be that universities are places where young people acquire two sorts of knowledge, what the philosopher Michael Oakeshott called technical knowledge and practical knowledge.
The problem is that as online education becomes more pervasive, universities can no longer primarily be in the business of transmitting technical knowledge.
@1 month ago with 225 notes
" “Most people aren’t trained to want to face the process of re-understanding a subject they already know. One must obtain not just literacy, but deep involvement and re-understanding.” "
@1 month ago with 29 notes
"Those of you who have been through college know that the educational system is very highly geared to rewarding conformity and obedience; if you don’t do that, you are a troublemaker. So, it is kind of a filtering device which ends up with people who really honestly (they aren’t lying) internalize the framework of belief and attitudes of the surrounding power system in the society. The elite institutions like, say, Harvard and Princeton and the small upscale colleges, for example, are very much geared to socialization. If you go through a place like Harvard, most of what goes on there is teaching manners; how to behave like a member of the upper classes, how to think the right thoughts, and so on."
@3 months ago with 1132 notes
#noam chomsky #education