Saturday, September 28, 2013

* Swanson (Yale '80) Champions Bill and Melinda Gradgrind and their recipe of 5000 ingredients to produce civilized the good ol' U.S. of A.

Swanson '80 critiques  The Anti-Yale

This is not in any way a correction of your [previous] post, just my own comments.
When I entered Yale , they told us we were expected to participate in class.  When I attempted to do this, in many though not all of my classes, the response I got was to have the professor roll his eyes in his head and basically say contemptuously, "I don't know WHAT [roll eyes in head] you are talking about!"  (I never got this reaction from any of my college professors.) I was transformed from Jamie Swanson to "Jamie Gibberish."
Since leaving school, I seem to have faced a relentless pressure to dumb things down, dumb things down, dumb things down.  Make things dumber, and dumber and dumberer.  See Dick run.  See Jane jump.  Run, Dick, run.  Jump, Jane, jump.
I have not followed the controversy involving Hirsch [previous post], so I don't want to defend him.  But it seems there needs to be some standards set in education.  I've read the comments about Euro-centrism and multi-culturalism.  I'm sorry, but I'm not seeing this achieved.  All I seem to see is dumber and dumber and dumber.  And the relentless push for dumber and dumber.  Does this mean I support "Gradgrindism"?
No, I don't think so.  There has to be some appropriate medium or middle ground.
I was watching the CBS Evening News the other night, not paying that much attention.  They had a segment featuring a British commentator or analyst from Oxford.  I don't remember exactly the situation he was analyzing, but he concluded by saying (in part),
"Plus ça change."  After he concluded, the camera went back to the female anchor, who made some comment to the effect that she did not understand what the commentator was talking about.  In other words, DUH!
Now, does one have to be a professor at Oxford University to know that Plus ça change is short for plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, i.e., The more things change, the more they remain the same?  I've only seen that expression thousands of times.  Was the Oxford professor being stupid in addressing an American audience in language they could not be expected to comprehend?  I don't think so.
So I don't know what to say about "core curriculum."  Perhaps it is needed, albeit with moderation.


The Anti-Yale Replies


Core means core.

5000 items on a list for 12 grades (do the math) is 460 items a year!

One on the list I quoted from the Times was "Pickwickian". Reading Dickens would take all year.  PLUS 459 other items.


I picked up Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose from my 40 year friendship with my acting instructor at Ithaca College, Vergiu Cornea, not from a curriculum. 


Some people are interested in high brow culture.  Others not.

Hirsch wants a world of Kulture Vultures, all competing on the same wavelengths. 

BORING.  The Death of Creativity.  Hoity toity dinner conversationalist pretentiousness.  UGH.

JD Salinger chose  Cornish, New Hampshire not Paris for his home.

He loved church suppers, not $500 dinners at  Le Coq d'Or.

He and Holden Caulfield hated phoneys.  Hirsch is 'real' but he wants to create regiments of standardized phoneys.

He's a human nature chef.  A recipe therapist for a gloriously unstandardized world:  Add these 5000 ingredients, cook on high heat for twelve school years, mixing occasionally, and everyone will meet my dinner-conversation expectations.


Un American.

Paul D. Keane,
M.A., M.Div. M.Ed


I'd like to post your comment and mine together as another blog post.  Permission? 

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