Re: Pissing Contests

Mon, 12 Feb 1996 12:00:50 -0500

On Mon, 12 Feb 1996, Michael Hamende wrote:

> That seems to me to be a fundamental problem with our society as it
> moves from an industrial based one to whatever its going to be(?).
> Most American businesses and government agencies still don't know what
> to do with someone who is bright, articulate, visionary, and skillful
> at the use of the "essay" (and all that entails). They still want
> people who will sit down, shut up, and do as they are told. And this
> is what many of our schools turn out. K-12 and Higher Ed.
> I guess the question becomes: How can we influence our colleagues in
> other parts of our institutions who would abuse the essay as Greg
> suggests, as well as influence the world at large to value those
> skillful practitioners of the essay form and all it entails (critical
> thinking in total)? It seems to me that we really are discussing how
> people think and not simply a genre of writing.


I think that the line of influence moves not from educational institutions
at any level to business & culture, but from business/culture (the
"real" world) to educational insitutions. We are still teaching
on a factory model that values the sit down, shut up, and do your
job in isolation kind of employee/citizen. But business/culture
is moving away from that model far faster than education can keep up.
There's too much inertia to overcome. This is why I'm more interested
in a re-examination of our practice not to defend the essay but
to look for better ways of teaching/practicing altogether -- methods
that would help move us away from the factory model where we produce
those sit-down, shut-up old-style workers who may or may not be
able to write a dynamite essay.

Beth Baldwin