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Thread: Boys suffer in a culture without challenges

  1. #31
    Ah, Virgil, I guess there is no teaching an old dog new tricks, especially a stuborn one...

    It is a shame though because the world of literary theory does open up a huge area of thought and learning, a way to see things in a different light. It is always best to try to keep an open mind in these matters, but I fear, alas you have made up your mind before you have really delved any further, still I'm not here to preach or convert, but if you were to want to open your mind a little (is that not the purpose of education to open minds, not to close them?) then my door is always proverbially open. Or even you are feeling brave give Peter Barry a read!

    Oh it seems Paulclem that primary is as frustrating as secondary. I must say that I am unimpressed with the way secondary education is going at least in my experience of the lower end of state schools. Really I'd like to teach post 16 or adult, I don't know if I want to necessarily hang around secondary schooling slogging my guts out with little reward, but I know that post 16 and adult is a little shaky to get into on a full-time basis. Anyway, I値l end up doing what I値l end up doing, I知 not really concerned with that at present.

    Edit: Oh, maybe I'll teach theory to stuborn old adults, ha, ha.
    Last edited by LitNetIsGreat; 12-30-2009 at 07:07 PM.

  2. #32
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neely View Post
    Ah, Virgil, I guess there is no teaching an old dog new tricks, especially a stuborn one...

    It is a shame though because the world of literary theory does open up a huge area of thought and learning, a way to see things in a different light. It is always best to try to keep an open mind in these matters, but I fear, alas you have made up your mind before you have really delved any further, still I'm not here to preach or convert, but if you were to want to open your mind a little (is that not the purpose of education to open minds, not to close them?) then my door is always proverbially open. Or even you are feeling brave give Peter Barry a read!

    Oh it seems Paulclem that primary is as frustrating as secondary. I must say that I am unimpressed with the way secondary education is going at least in my experience of the lower end of state schools. Really I'd like to teach post 16 or adult, I don't know if I want to necessarily hang around secondary schooling slogging my guts out with little reward, but I know that post 16 and adult is a little shaky to get into on a full-time basis. Anyway, I値l end up doing what I値l end up doing, I知 not really concerned with that at present.

    Edit: Oh, maybe I'll teach theory to stuborn old adults, ha, ha.
    You have my sympathies teaching secondary - a difficult job. Hard to try new stuff when you are focused on keeping them focused.

    I think the two tier system doesn't help. Primaries send the kids off to secondaries ill prepared for the experience of having 8? 9? teachers of each subject after having one main class teacher for most of theeir school life. Of course it is the vulnerable ones that cope least.

    There are still kids who can't read properly - for a multitude of reasons - that are never going to get anywhere in secondary.

    In my last full time Y6 class I sent two lads up to secondary school - one with suspected motor dyslexia that I had only just realised after gong on an adult ed course - and one with some kind of emotional disturbance - perhaps a form of autism - that had never been addressed, just coped with in the Primary school. I don't know what happened to the lad with dyslexia - it was too late for us to get him assessed or anything, but the kid with the emotional problems lasted three weeks before they sent him to a school for kids with emotional and behavioural problems. This was a fairly typical one form intake primary school. Who knows how many were sent that year and every year to fail in the secondary system. (By the time I had this class I was sick of the job and was already moving into Adult Ed - hence the course).

    The problem with Adult Ed is difficult to get full time work, as you said, especially now, and the money is significantly lower. In colleges you might end up teaching 14-19 yr olds again. I have to say though that Ad Ed is a great job if you can get it, and much much less stressful. Scher's also in Adult Ed.

  3. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    You have my sympathies teaching secondary - a difficult job. Hard to try new stuff when you are focused on keeping them focused.

    I think the two tier system doesn't help. Primaries send the kids off to secondaries ill prepared for the experience of having 8? 9? teachers of each subject after having one main class teacher for most of theeir school life. Of course it is the vulnerable ones that cope least.

    There are still kids who can't read properly - for a multitude of reasons - that are never going to get anywhere in secondary.

    In my last full time Y6 class I sent two lads up to secondary school - one with suspected motor dyslexia that I had only just realised after gong on an adult ed course - and one with some kind of emotional disturbance - perhaps a form of autism - that had never been addressed, just coped with in the Primary school. I don't know what happened to the lad with dyslexia - it was too late for us to get him assessed or anything, but the kid with the emotional problems lasted three weeks before they sent him to a school for kids with emotional and behavioural problems. This was a fairly typical one form intake primary school. Who knows how many were sent that year and every year to fail in the secondary system. (By the time I had this class I was sick of the job and was already moving into Adult Ed - hence the course).

    The problem with Adult Ed is difficult to get full time work, as you said, especially now, and the money is significantly lower. In colleges you might end up teaching 14-19 yr olds again. I have to say though that Ad Ed is a great job if you can get it, and much much less stressful. Scher's also in Adult Ed.
    Yes, it seems that a lot slip through the net to get into secondary, but it is just so difficult to try to manage it all. As I work in a lower end secondary, (and I mean Lower end) there are a huge number that come to "us" that simply cannot cope with the transition at all, many of them with significant emotional and behavioural problems, who naturally have a total distaste for learning. I think that in special needs the latest intake was around 75% from Y6 to secondary, and this is not a special school, just a run of the mill lower end state school! It is all quite depressing, though my thoughts are often with those that want to progress and can't due to behaviour. Anyhow, it is Christmas, I don't want to depress myself too much - I'm on holiday still! Really the real world is all too painful, I'd rather hide in the lofty world of the academia, even as a hanger-on wannabe...

  4. #34
    Registered User pjjrfan1's Avatar
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    I would think some of it is more what's inherent in each boy's nature. My mom basically overprotected me and my brother, keeping us away from the gangs in our barrios keeping us out of sports, telling us not to join the armed services because of Viet Nam. I lisetened, my brother, well there was no stopping him, even when i aruged with him that he was breaking moms heart, he just met things head on, we didn't have a father present growing up and my Brother quickly picked upt he slack. He is 4 years younger than I, but the guys in the neighborhood knew not to mess with him while they lit up on me. I think we both came out alright, but his sense of how to handle the world was much more advanced than mine was.

  5. #35
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neely View Post
    Ah, Virgil, I guess there is no teaching an old dog new tricks, especially a stuborn one...

    It is a shame though because the world of literary theory does open up a huge area of thought and learning, a way to see things in a different light. It is always best to try to keep an open mind in these matters, but I fear, alas you have made up your mind before you have really delved any further, still I'm not here to preach or convert, but if you were to want to open your mind a little (is that not the purpose of education to open minds, not to close them?) then my door is always proverbially open. Or even you are feeling brave give Peter Barry a read!
    Oh Neely, I may be an old dog, but I've been more than exposed to literary theory. I do have a masters in english lit. It's all a crock. Frankly meaningful literary theory started and probably ended with Aristotle.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  6. #36
    Oh Ok, I'm surprised that anyone can dismiss ALL of it though. (Anyway, the article was rubbish.)

  7. #37
    Registered User gbrekken's Avatar
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    Virgil-tis sad you leave out Horace and Longinus
    heavenly blue morning glory

  8. #38
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbrekken View Post
    Virgil-tis sad you leave out Horace and Longinus
    You know I felt a tug of regret when I left it at Aristotle, but then I went ahead anyway. Aristotle teaches us how to underastand art, but I think Horace (Ars Poetica) and Longinus (On the Sublime) concentrate on appreciation for and style of art rather than an understanding of art, though there is a relative mix. If you think that's not correct, feel free to dispute it. you might be right.

    What's truly a shame is that today's literature students are fed this deconstruction (and that long list of associated theories I presented above) nonsense at the expense of Aristotle, Horace, Longinus, and the Renaissance humanists. I wonder how many literature graduates have even been exposed to non 20th century aesthetic theories. Perhaps Neely will see this and tell us if he has.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  9. #39
    No, you are quite right they are not on my particular course or I doubt on many. However the benefits of studying part-time is that personally I have a little time to try and fill in any gaps myself, and my Norton Anthology starts with the likes of Leontini, Plato, Aristotle, Horace, Longinus, Quintilian, Plotinus, Hippo Macrobisu etc. Whereas I can't claim to have read many of those (only a little Plato and Aristotle) you can bet I will when I can get around to it - obviously I have to meet the priorities of the course first.

    However, I am more concerned at large cuts in literature departments meaning drains on the teaching of the likes of Milton, Shakespeare, Dickens etc - (Sheffield university has just got rid of their only Dickens expert and one Shakespeare scholar, as well as a number of very good part-time tutors - this is all very sad to me, honestly what is happening to part-time study is a disgrace, but perhaps that's a different discussion?

  10. #40
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neely View Post
    No, you are quite right they are not on my particular course or I doubt on many. However the benefits of studying part-time is that personally I have a little time to try and fill in any gaps myself, and my Norton Anthology starts with the likes of Leontini, Plato, Aristotle, Horace, Longinus, Quintilian, Plotinus, Hippo Macrobisu etc. Whereas I can't claim to have read many of those (only a little Plato and Aristotle) you can bet I will when I can get around to it - obviously I have to meet the priorities of the course first.
    Actually other than Aristotle, who was specifically brought up by a single teacher, I had to read most of those on my own as well. Who is Leontini? He doesn't ring a bell.

    However, I am more concerned at large cuts in literature departments meaning drains on the teaching of the likes of Milton, Shakespeare, Dickens etc - (Sheffield university has just got rid of their only Dickens expert and one Shakespeare scholar, as well as a number of very good part-time tutors - this is all very sad to me, honestly what is happening to part-time study is a disgrace, but perhaps that's a different discussion?
    Oh that does sound unfortunate. Is it because of a shrinking department or are they choosing other scholars in lieu of those you mention?
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  11. #41
    Who is Leontini?
    Oh sorry it is Gorgias of Leontinei (ca.483-376 B.C.E) (therefore a contemporary of Plato) it says:

    With its observations on the power of speech (logos), Goergias's "Encomium of Helen" develops a classical rhetoric antithetical to Platonic poetics, one that anticipates Jacques Derrida's [really?] twentieth-centaury critique of Plato. Where Plato commends moral content, Gorgias praises element form/ where Plato is didactic, Gorgias aims to persuade through performance; where Plato - and those who followed him, like Augustine - condemns rhetoric as dangerously false, Gorgias embraces it. [etc, etc].

    Gorgias came from as Greek colony in Sicily and, by all accounts, lived to be more than one hundred years old. Nothing is known of his life until he came to Athens in 427BCE as part of an embassy from his native Leontini. There his dazzling oratorical style, whose force is difficult to capture in translation, made him something of a sensation: he quickly become one of the sophists, a group of itinerant teachers who went form city to city earning their living by instructing others in subtle argumentations. [etc].

    Gorgias confined himself almost exclusively to the teaching of oratory - rhetoric - which was the main road to success in Greek city states [etc]. Only fragments of Gorgias's rhetorical works survive, primarily in the form of commonplaces, or rhetorical exercises that were used to instruct others. [etc, oh this sounds interesting:]

    Plato writes that he admired Gorgias because he did not claim to be a teacher of arete, or virtue; "in fact, he laughs at others he hears making such promises. He thinks one should make men skilful at speaking."

    They have not given much to his work in the edition, only a couple of pages of his "Encomium of Helen". Basically it looks like he was good at talking.

    Oh that does sound unfortunate. Is it because of a shrinking department or are they choosing other scholars in lieu of those you mention?
    No, it is just cuts in spending. Really there are cuts to both the full-time uni (which I have little to do with) and the part-time department which is tiny, tiny, from which I owe nearly everything. They are making cuts throughout in the main uni, Sheffield, which includes as I said one Shakespeare scholar and the only Dickens expert, and maybe more I don't know? Consider though that Sheffield is a top uni so it is altogether a little worrying for the subject as a whole I think.

    In the part-time department, like I say which is microscopic in comparison, they are basically just ripping it apart, so that when I will have finished later this year or early next, it is arguable that they will be any literature programme left at all. In fact I think that the main uni wants to get rid of the thing entirely, but it is good PR to keep it on, so I think it will exist but only in a watered down form. I suppose that they have to balance the books and it is true that numbers are low (because people are hooked to the TV set instead of going out learning?) but some of the people they are getting rid of are often amongst experts in their field and really inspiring people. It is just really sad. Any module that now can't attract the masses is having a red line through it, and that is that.

    When you consider the part-time options left in the country the message is even sadder. There are four, yes four, departments within the UK offering part-time degrees, not including the Open University, which I never fancied, and all of them are under serious threat of closure. At the end of the day if they don't attract the punters they go to the wall, and sometimes even if they do attract the "punters" (one department is two and a half times over subscribed) they go to the wall anyway. Very sad indeed. What is wrong with people?

  12. #42
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Thanks Neely. Hopefully when the economy recovers, the Uni will be able to hire more.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  13. #43
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    I don't know about England, but let me state a few things about the college and university situation here in the U.S., as far as the economic situation has affected it. Previously, the general rule in U.S. colleges and universities was that graduate students and assistant instructors took care of the basic courses, that is, they conducted the basic required composition courses and in many cases the required world literature courses. The full-fledged professors and associate professors taught only the upper level courses and did research. Now with the economic situation being what it is, many colleges and universities have had to cut back on their grad students and assistant fellowships and stipends, and the full professors and associate professors now find themselves in the position of actually having to teach. Horrors of horrors! If it wasn't so pathetic, it would be funny.

  14. #44
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    LOL, horror of horrors is right. I bet most of them can't teach. They get their PhDs for whatever research they want to do and teaching is only secondary. Most of their research is a waste of time anyway.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  15. #45
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Interesting discussion topic, Virgil. As an educator I'm going to have to state that I agree with any number of the premises and concerns. There has been a concerted effort to assist girls in education... to utilize teaching strategies that favor girls, to invest heavily in girls sports, and to stress the notion of school as a competition free environment. We may add to this the gross overuse of medication (Ritalin, etc...) to sedate any student (primarily boys) who appear overly energetic rather than to attempt to focus or direct this energy in a positive manner. I'm not certain that I would blame the declining success of boys in schools or the declining numbers of male entrants into college and universities (and yes, these may certainly be documented) fully upon some PC anti-competition mindset. There are many other variables. One might consider, for example, that in the US a great majority of the poor urban students are being raised in single family homes... with the vast majority of these headed by a woman. This is not to suggest that many women cannot do a competent job at raising boys... but not having a positive male role model for a huge percentage of the population... leaving that role model to gangs and TV celebrities to fill may certainly have an affect on the maturity of many.

    Sharing, empathy, cooperation, etc... are certainly qualities worthy of being taught... but so is competition. Through competition one may learn the value of rules, playing fair, good sportsmanship... and one may discover the reality of success and failure. The reality is that the adult world is built upon competition. Contrary to feel-good notions of egalitarianism, academia and even the arts are every bit as competitive as the cut-throat capitalism of Wall Street, London, Berlin, Tokyo, and Shanghai. Public education in the US has a long history of attempted social engineering... attempting to reconstruct society according to some egalitarian ideal through the elimination of grades or other means of competition... social promotion... continual positive feedback and praise (often unwarranted) and even the banning of the use of red ink to mark wrong answers (lest a student become too distraught over his "failure" and his or her frail self esteem be unrepairably damaged. The result is that American students often have the highest... often unrealistic sense of self-worth and unrealistic expectations of what they are entitled to... in sharp contrast to their actual abilities in comparison to many other countries as measured on standardized tests. Entering into the real world with the same unrealistic expectations is most certainly not the most ideal of situations.

    Again... as Virgil first noted... I don't think the questions about boy's success in school is something that can be easily explained as being the result of a single element of education that can be quickly corrected... but neither can it be swept aside as a paranoid fantasy.
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