Sanford Lakoff’s “Higher Education Needs Guardians of Learning” is nostalgic but acknowledges technology helps us become better writers (as well as freeing us from spending our lives on others’ words). Sure, ink wells and the Palmer method were aesthetically pleasing. (Not that all that penmanship was lovely – ask anyone who has struggled through manuscripts by Thoreau or Faulkner.) The advances are greater than he implies, since the future he describes in his penultimate sentence is here: “Then will come virtual courses, with no need for personal attendance in classrooms.” Nor are the readers of this blog likely to embrace his conclusion: “No wonder Socrates thought that, in a utopia, we would need guardians to set the rules and control change.” Our passion is for the beautifully turned phrase and the precise wording that captures an idea; this is the essence – we respect that whether it is on papyrus or paper or typed or word processed or blogged. We learn from and admire the understanding of the human condition whether it is in Sophocles or Lileks. The traditional genres may win out – but I don’t think we know that yet. Right now, blogs are defining it as we go. We know what we do now is transitory; but, in that future, will it all be? It won’t be guardians but experience and time that will mold this medium–as well as the art of teaching.
3 thoughts on “Style and Technology”
Having had several classes with several “Chicago Boyz” (many years ago) I can attest to the fact that at least in some cases, not having an instructor would have been a big PLUS for the course. Some were wonderful teachers. Some saw teaching as an interuption to their day, and dealing with mere undergraduates a pain in the lower back.
” Are there downsides to such progress?”
To flog a favorite horse of mine, the downside is that it will become increasingly hard to get paid for creating educational materials so the production of such materials will eventually dry up.
I am really concerned that the production of all kinds of information will eventually become nothing but economic parasites on other activities. I think this eventually lead to less information being available instead of more.
“No wonder Socrates thought that, in a utopia, we would need guardians to set the rules and control change.”
Lakoff doesn’t know his Plato from his Socrates. Socrates never spoke of utopia; he was the great skeptic; his teaching could be summed up as, “That which we think we know, we don’t.”
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