Re: grading ourselves to death

Steve Krause (krause@MIND.NET)
Thu, 5 Sep 1996 09:19:45 -0700

Eric wrote (in part):

>Thanks Darlene. This old saying points right at the heart of what's wrong
>with curricula (not just any particular curriculum, but *curricula*
>itself!): These schemes almost always concentrate effort on leading horses
>to water, forgetting this bit of wisdom in our lore, forgetting that
>thirst is the key! You can lead a horse to water, but *there's no point*
>if it doesn't want to drink.
>We not only lead our students to water whether they are thirsty or not,
>but we then proceed to critique their drinking abilities, adding insult.

I agree with most of what you've said on this thread (more or less), but
there's one problem with your critique of this metaphor which seems to me
to be something we ought to remember. We don't _force_ students to water,
so to speak; we give opportunity to participate. Granted, there is a fair
amount of forcing for secondary and elementary students, but if we're
talking about college, we're talking about a voluntary system. There are
certainly ideological and cultural forces that push students into college
involuntarily, and of course a lot of students see college as a "hoop" one
must jump through to get the job they want or what-have-you. Plus once
students show up at college, they have to play by the rules, no matter how
"good" or "bad" those rules might be.

But it's still ultimately a voluntary activity. We all know that _a lot_
of students who start don't finish, which seems to me to be evidence to the
fact that those who don't want their water drinking styles critiqued leave.
I guess what I'm trying to say is I think we ought to keep the idea of
"forced" to drink (so to speak) in perspective; college isn't the military
or prison or what-have-you. Students can (and do) refuse to drink all the

Steve Krause * Department of English * Southern Oregon State College
1250 Siskiyou Blvd. * Ashland, OR 97520 * Office Phone: 541-552-6630
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