Lecture 17: Some Thoughts on Education


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Seventeenth lecture for my students in English 165EW, "Life After the End of the World," winter 2013 at UC Santa Barbara.

Course website: http://patrickbrianmooney.nfshost.com/~patrick/ta/w13/

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Lecture 17: Some Thoughts on Education

  1. 1. Lecture 17: Some Thoughts on Education English 165EW Winter 2013 11 March 2013 “‘Beauty and truth, Kinch,’ the Coogan says. ‘Beauty and truth. All the rest is bumper stickers.’” — James Hynes, The Lecturer’s Tale (146)
  2. 2. “[H]ere I do but say that there are two ways of using Knowledge, and in matter of fact those who use it one way are not likely to use it in the other, or at least in a very limited measure. You see, then, here are two methods of Education, the end of one is to be philosophical, of the other to be mechanical; the one rises toward general ideas, the other is exhausted upon what is particular and external.” (John Henry, Cardinal Newman, The Idea of a University, discourse 5) “[S]ome great men […] insist that Education should be confined to some particular and narrow end, and should issue in some definite work, which can be weighed and measured.” (Newman, discourse 7)
  3. 3. Jimmy’s education “If Jimmy had been from a Module school, or – better – from one of those dump bins they still called ‘the public system,’ he’d have shone like a diamond in a drain. But the Compound schools were awash in brilliant genes, none of which he’d inherited from his geeky, kak-hearted parents, so his talents shrank by comparison. Nor had he been given any extra points for being funny.” (172; ch. 8) “Our Students Graduate With Employable Skills, ran the motto underneath the original Latin motto, which was Ars Longa Vita Brevis.” (188; ch. 8)
  4. 4. “Jimmy had few illusions. He knew what sort of thing would be open to him when he came out the other end of Problematics with his risible degree. Window- dressing was what he’d be doing at best – decorating the cold, hard, numerical real world in flossy 2-D verbiage. Depending on how well he did in his Problematics courses – Applied Logic, Applied Rhetoric, Medical Ethics and Terminology, Applied Semantics, Relativistics and Advanced Mischaracterization, Comparative Cultural Psychology, and the rest – he’d have a choice between well-paid window-dressing or a big Corp or flimsy cut-rate stuff for a borderline one.” (188; ch. 8) “The system had filed him among the rejects, and what he was studying was considered – at the decision- making levels, the levels of real power – an archaic waste of time.” (195; ch. 8)
  5. 5. “So a lot of what went on at Martha Graham was like studying Latin, or book-binding: pleasant to contemplate in its way, but no longer central to anything, though every once in a while the college president would subject them to some yawner about the vital arts and their irresistible reserved seat in the big-red-velvet amphitheatre of the beating human heart.” (187; ch. 8) “Jimmy found the place depressing, as did – it seemed – everyone there with any more neural capacity than a tulip. But this was the hand life had dealt him, as his dad had said during their awkward goodbye, and now Jimmy would just have to play it as well as he could.” (186; ch. 8)
  6. 6. Crake’s education “Watson-Crick was known to the students there as Asperger’s U because of the high percentage of brilliant weirdos that strolled and hopped and lurched through its corridors. Demi-autistic, genetically speaking; single- track tunnel-vision minds, a marked degree of social ineptitude.” (193; ch. 8) “But Crake never answered that one. This was his way: when there was a question he didn’t want to address, he acted as if it hadn’t been asked.” (194; ch. 8)
  7. 7. Watson-Crick was a fridge-magnet culture: people bought them, traded them, made their own. No Brain, No Pain (with a green hologram of a brain). Siliconsciousness. I wander from Space to Space. Wanna Meet a Meat machine? Take Your Time, Leave Mine Alone. Little spoat/gider, who made thee? Life experiments like a rakunk at play. I think, therefore I spam. The proper study of Mankind is Everything. (209; ch. 8)
  8. 8. A Parting Thought … “What people want is perfection,” said the man. “In themselves.” “But they need the steps to it to be pointed out,” said the woman. “In simple order,” said the man. “With encouragement,” said the woman. “And a positive attitude.” “They like to hear about the before and the after,” said the man. “It’s the art of the possible. But with no guarantees, of course.” (246; ch. 10)