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Thread: How did Harold Bloom rise to such a level of eminence?

  1. #76
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    A teacher will always teach better what he/ she knows well. From a pragmatic point of view there is nothing unreasonable about that. As a student who knows less (or he wouldn't be a student) this is also a desirable situation. The argument for and against having more graduates in the population probably boils down to "why"? Many companies send staff to study in their twenties. This is good for the company and the individual. I personally do not think it necessary to make nursing an all-graduate profession. You end up with educated nurses who cannot nurse. I've known teachers with two brains but who can't teach for toffee. Many 18 year-olds do not benefit from further education at that level because frankly they are too immature and too ignorant. It is also the case that some degree courses are fluff dressed up by jargon to appear profound.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ennison View Post
    A teacher will always teach better what he/ she knows well. From a pragmatic point of view there is nothing unreasonable about that. As a student who knows less (or he wouldn't be a student) this is also a desirable situation. The argument for and against having more graduates in the population probably boils down to "why"? Many companies send staff to study in their twenties. This is good for the company and the individual. I personally do not think it necessary to make nursing an all-graduate profession. You end up with educated nurses who cannot nurse. I've known teachers with two brains but who can't teach for toffee. Many 18 year-olds do not benefit from further education at that level because frankly they are too immature and too ignorant. It is also the case that some degree courses are fluff dressed up by jargon to appear profound.
    I don't entirely disagree, Ennison. Applying for college ought to be a carefully considered personal decision. But pre-college educators have a duty to make it a real choice--not one made for the student because nobody prepared him or her to think critically, write cogently, read perceptively, or do math and languages. And developing those skills will benefit anyone, whether they decide to go to college or not.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-25-2019 at 03:19 PM.

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    A well educated public is ideal. Most educators I know take their "duty" seriously, but there are no simple, sure-fire methods that work for everyone.

    I recently read Tara Westover's best-selling memoir "Educated", by the way. Westover was supposedly home schooled, but her parents actually did very little to actually educate her. She had to teach herself. Nonetheless, she ended up getting a PhD. in history from Cambridge, which demonstrates I'm not sure what. Perhaps there are many different ways to become educated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Most educators I know take their "duty" seriously
    That's not my experience but, okay, we disagree. In any case, the radical change required to approach the educational ideal you mention is not something our society has any intention of doing (for various more or less nefarious reasons). But requiring students have "basic reading and writing skills" (to quote Pip) before letting them into college is something we can do now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    I recently read Tara Westover's best-selling memoir "Educated", by the way. Westover was supposedly home schooled, but her parents actually did very little to actually educate her. She had to teach herself. Nonetheless, she ended up getting a PhD. in history from Cambridge, which demonstrates I'm not sure what. Perhaps there are many different ways to become educated.
    Thank you for two things. First for bringing up the subject of home schooling, which I should have mentioned before. If conscientiously done, it is a better option than private or (tragically) public school. And since local schools (here at least) are required to admit home schoolers to after school sports programs, it presents fewer problems with socialization than sometimes claimed.

    Thank you also for letting me know what Educated is about. Bozo (that is, Amazon) has been nagging me to read it for what seems like forever. I am interested in the lost dream of the autodidactic Internet-- though only for adults. I think it would be disastrous (in an unstructured form at least) for most minors.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-26-2019 at 08:59 AM.

  5. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    That's not my experience but, okay, we disagree. In any case, the radical change required to approach the educational ideal you mention is not something our society has any intention of doing (for various more or less nefarious reasons). But requiring students have "basic reading and writing skills" (to quote Pip) before letting them into college is something we can do now.
    How is rejecting kids for admission to college going to improve their "basic reading or writing skills"? That seems counter-intuitive. Surely admitting students to college is more likely to have that effect.

    High School graduation rates are at an all-time high in the U.S. To the extent that some (silly) people see this as indicative of a well-educated public, I'll agree that it may be misleading. Diplomas are accolades; education is an achievement. Because these statistics mislead the public, I'll further concede that some educators probably think that improved graduation rates will persuade the public that State financed education is performing well, and are willing to lower standards to protect their jobs and reputations.

    What I don't concede is that there was a mythical past in which we did a better job of educating children. Diplomas may have been a better INDICATOR of a decent education in the past, but since fewer children earned them, we cannot assume that the public was better educated, or that our schools were doing a better job. Indeed, I'm pretty sure basic literacy rates in the U.S. have had a steady, upward trend (I didn't look it up anywhere).

    Nor will I concede that, to quote Pompey, "Those days, obviously, are gone. American public education has become tax-supported supplementary day care at best and woke indoctrination camps at worst." Obviously, public schools have always "indoctrinated" children. Public school teachers when I was a child were adamant that the U.S. was the "land of the free" and that Democracy and Capitalism and freedom were somehow synonymous (this when legally sanctioned racial discrimination still existed in the school systems of some states). Was this "(woke or sleepy) indoctrination"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    How is rejecting kids for admission to college going to improve their "basic reading or writing skills"?
    I'm not talking about rejecting them from admission to college. I'm talking about teaching them now so they can really go to college rather than paying for what they should have learned on the taxpayers dime. It would help them by providing an incentive for those who actually want to go to college. (And, I mean, be honest, it's a pretty low bar).

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Surely admitting students to college is more likely to have that effect.
    How is admitting students to college whether they have mastered basic English skills or not going to motivate them? As mothers used to say to their daughters: why buy the cow when you're getting the milk for free?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    High School graduation rates are at an all-time high in the U.S. To the extent that some (silly) people see this as indicative of a well-educated public, I'll agree that it may be misleading.
    Such people would be silly indeed given Pip's witness of "declining literacy rates" and a lack of freshman survey classes because students are arriving without "basic reading and writing skills." It sounds like you and I agree that lower standards are what's producing diploma inflation. So--say it with me now --raise the standards.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Indeed, I'm pretty sure basic literacy rates in the U.S. have had a steady, upward trend (I didn't look it up anywhere).
    Me neither, but I can't imagine we're very different than Canada (which Pip says is declining. But it's a red herring in any case. Literacy and mastery of English skills (grammar, spelling, etc.) are not the same thing--or are you actually talking about letting illiterates into college?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Nor will I concede that, to quote Pompey, "Those days, obviously, are gone. American public education has become tax-supported supplementary day care at best and woke indoctrination camps at worst."
    Okay, it can be better at best. But it's much worse than I said at worst--metal detector bad. I think you missed my point in any case. It was not that my g-g-generation was so smart or that we lived in the myth age. It was that children are capable of doing much more than we ask of them intellectually. And you would have LOVED me as Banquo, by the way. I scared the sh*t out of everyone when I came back as a ghost. Nowadays, though, that would be-- upsetting (and surely patriarchal in some mysterious way).

    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Obviously, public schools have always "indoctrinated" children.
    And was that a good thing, Ecurb? Is it something we want to keep doing to our children? In any case, "concede" or don't. There's no reason intelligent, well meaning people can't disagree--despite what we teach students.

  7. #82
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    My point is that of course we hope our schools do as good a job as possible at teaching children. The goal is not in question; the means of attaining it are. I doubt that making college admission standards stricter would further the goal (although maybe it would).

    "Indoctrination" sometimes means "teaching people values to which (I) object." One person's "indoctrination" is another's "instruction". My memory of my son's public education is that schools preached tolerance and promoted anti-bullying programs, which seems reasonable (especially when one recognizes that it is in the school's interest to prevent violence and promote order and good will).

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    I like the way this has drifted from Bloom. I'm sure that most Primary school and secondary school teachers in Scotland do their best to teach literacy and numeracy. There are numerous reasons why it is not happening as well as it should but I won't dwell on these here. I agree that education is beneficial to the individual but when should that education happen, within what age range? If you have reached the point of not having any further interest in learning what the school has to teach then it's time you left. Unfortunately with some "learners" that lack of interest happens very early and before they can legally leave. It is beneficial for the state to have an educated population so the state invests some of its wealth in education and decides what the minimum length of time in education should be. At some point though you need to take over responsibility for your own learning or your employer needs to take some responsibility. If you want to continue, you need to grasp early the importance of basic literacy and numeracy. Further education centres are reporting more 17 year olds who are having to be taught basic literacy at a stage when they should have already acquired that. But that could be as much about more people going on to do further education as about lower standards. There were probably always a significant number of school leavers who had only achieved basic literacy. Some of these would develop more fully later but their limitations in that area would not have been noticed as they were in occupations that did not require much more than basic literacy. Their skills might have quickly developed in other areas once they began to work.

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    Ecurb, nothing personal, but I'm getting a little bored. I think we've expressed our views at this point, and I know we're big enough to live with our differences. So let's go do another Shakespearean sonnet or something now, okay?

    Added: Hey, Ennison. Didn't see you there. You two talk, huh?
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 05-26-2019 at 07:14 PM.

  10. #85
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    On a brighter note, I'll bet little Pompey made a very cute Banquo.

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    According to international rankings, Canda's average high school student's reading and writing skills are apparently the best in the English and French speaking world (It has declined in recent years from #1 to #3 behind South Korea and Finland). Even with relatively high level of achievement most undergraduates who enter into the humanities lack writing skills. I think this is due to a number of factors, but I believe primarily it is due to the fact that more talented students tend to pick health sciences or other STEM fields to pursue in university. This is coming from someone teaching at what is generally considered to be a top university in Canada that is difficult to get into. I can't imagine what it must be like for the teachers at the local colleges.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    On a brighter note, I'll bet little Pompey made a very cute Banquo.
    I was terrifying.

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    His anxiety of influence is part of literary theory anthologies.

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    So's your school debt. ;-)

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