Lebenskünstler

Mark Edmundson – Hungry Hearts

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 04/03/2012

via NY Times:

I had a childhood friend named Paul Rizzo. Paul had a hungry heart. He wanted to see everything, know everything, read everything, go everywhere. He had what you might call an associative mind, and he surely didn’t cold-cock his SATs. But he did want to learn. He went to some colleges; he took some courses. But I don’t think he ever got the quality of education he deserved. That kind of schooling was too often reserved for kids who aced their boards and charmed their teachers and were elected presidents of the Climbers Club by unanimous acclaim.

Paul is still out there, driving a cab, writing fiction, reading what he can and trying to figure it all out. He sees himself as an Everyman type, but not without aspirations of an intellectual and even spiritual sort. Not long ago he used the phrase “Hamlet with a coffee to go” in a note to me and that describes Paul pretty well. The Boss would probably like him, maybe even enough to slip him into a song. Hungry hearts – smart or slow, rich or poor – still deserve a place in the class.

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Francis Bacon – Book Learning

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 04/02/2012

“This kind of degenerate learning did chiefly reign amongst the Schoolmen: who having sharp and strong wits, and abundance of leisure, and small variety of reading, but their wits being shut up in the cells of a few authors…as their persons were shut up in the cells of monasteries and colleges…did out of no great quantity of matter and infinite agitation of wit spin out unto those laborious webs of learning which are extant in their books…as the spider worketh his web, then it is endless, and brings forth indeed cobwebs of learning, admirable for the fineness of thread and work, but of no substance or profit. ” – Francis Bacon on book learning

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Francis Parker – Education

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 03/31/2012

Bought at home, bought at school, with merits, per-cents, and prizes, bought in college and university by the offer of high places, the young man with a finished education stands in the world’s market-place and cries: “I’m for sale; what will you give for me ?”…The cultivation of the reward system in our schools is the cultivation of inordinate ambition, the sinking of every other motive into the one of personal success. – Francis Parker

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Theodore Roszak – Education

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 03/29/2012

We are all born mavericks, gifted with strange vocations…This is what all of us bring into life and to school: a wholly unexplored radically unpredictable identity. To educate is to unfold that identity – to unfold it with the utmost delicacy…First of all, we must want children to teach us who they are . We should think of our meeting with them as a glad encounter with the unexpected…It is the task of the educator to champion…against all the forces of the world that see in our children only so much raw material for more of the same, the established, the ‘successful.’ – Theodore Roszak

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Benjamin Barber – Academic Specialization – Aristocracy of Everyone

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 06/25/2009

From An Aristocracy of Everyone: The Politics of Education and the Future of America by Benjamin Barber:

“…academic specialization has turned the study of culture into the study of the study of culture – self-conscious preoccupation with method, technique, and scholarship displacing a broad humanistic concern for culture itself.”

“Souls are deep in many different ways, and reading is hardly the only road to virtue.”

“[university teaching has become]…all questions and no answers, all doubt and no provisional resting places.”

“Deconstruction may rid us of all our illusions and thus seem a clever way to think, but it is no way to live.”

“[the object of public schools]…is not to credential the educated but to educate the uncredentialed.”

“[democracy as]…an extraordinary and rare contrivance of cultivated imagination.”

Bruce Fleming – Professionalization of Literature

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 12/26/2008

From Bruce Fleming’s “What Ails Literary Studies”:

“We’re not teaching literature, we’re teaching the professional study of literature: What we do is its own subject. Nowadays the academic study of literature has almost nothing to do with the living, breathing world outside. The further along you go in the degree ladder, and the more rarified a college you attend, the less literary studies relates to the world of the reader. The academic study of literature nowadays isn’t, by and large, about how literature can help students come to terms with love, and life, and death, and mistakes, and victories, and pettiness, and nobility of spirit, and the million other things that make us human and fill our lives. It’s, well, academic…That’s how we made a discipline, after all.”

There are some conservative overtones to his piece, but he’s right on the mark with regard to the way professionalization can stifle human experience. I found myself substituting ‘art’ for ‘literary studies,’ but pretty much any disciplinary field is applicable.