Tag Archives: universities

Trigger Warnings

“Universities are accused of ‘mollycoddling’ and ‘patronising’ students as books are removed from reading lists over ‘challenging’ content and trigger warnings are slapped on 1,000 texts including works by Dickens, Shakespeare, and Chaucer”.

I won’t comment other than to say that treating adults as children is patronising in the extreme. If someone is going to be “triggered” by a book they should seriously consider whether English Literature is the right course for them.

Real life is often unpleasant and there are, obviously no “trigger warnings” on the real world. Part of growing up entails becoming exposed to the world (warts and all) whether via interactions with living beings, or through reading works of fiction, watching films Etc.

She, Studying At University

She, studying at university.
Sitting on his settee.
The wine eases.
She softly pleases.

A girl’s first time
Caught in a rhyme.
A generous fee
For her company …

Don’t Major In Literature

A highly provocative take on the value of studying literature, which can be summed up by the following quote from the post linked to below:

… “and if you want to learn about art, beauty, and literary value—read great writers and do nothing more than open yourself to them. Don’t pay
and don’t let your parents mortgage their home to have your aesthetic sensibilities ruined and replaced by a hodgepodge pseudo discipline”.

The article is, I believe full of sweeping generalisations (and I certainly don’t agree with the suggestion that literature departments should, perhaps be closed). I am sharing in the spirit of encouraging debate and my re-blogging should not necessarily be taken as signifying my agreement with the writer’s perspective.

To read the article please visit, http://quillette.com/2017/05/02/dont-major-literature/.

Education is an end in itself not a means to an end

Kenneth Baker, a former Education Secretary in the Conservative administration of the late Lady Margaret Thatcher, has given a speech in which he argues that traditional subjects such as history and English will no longer act as an automatic pathway to a well paying job, for example in middle management. Baker contends that the proliferation of technology means there will be less jobs available in the middle management sphere and many young people will, in the future choose vocational education and/or apprenticeships over a traditional degree as this is more likely to be of use in their search for employment.
My degree is in history and politics, while I also have a MA in political theory. Given that I hold academic qualifications of the kind Baker argues will become less “relevant” (my word not his), I was particularly interested in the report of his speech.
My decision to attend university was influenced by several factors, the primary one being a love of learning and a desire to study 2 subjects which fascinated (and continue to fascinate me). A lesser reason for opting for higher education stemmed from me not knowing what I wished to do with my life, (the latter is, I feel sure a factor influencing the choices of a significant number of students). The wish to gain employment was, no doubt present in my mind, it was not, however a major motivator.
To me a university education is, at it’s best about broadening the mind and enhancing the ability of the student to think critically about the world. A truly educated person reads an article in a newspaper and brings his (or her) critical faculties to bare. Is it true? If so how much of it is accurate and how much “opinion” rather than “fact”. Of course there are many people who do not possess a university degree who are extremely bright and capable of separating pure “opinion” from hard “fact”. None the less a university degree does encourage critical thinking and for that very reason is valuable in and of itself.
“Man does not live by bread alone”. We need to raise our eyes from the ground and look to the skies. Vocational education and training are important. We need plumbers, builders and chefs. However man is not a robot and the danger of the lauding of vocational education/training over traditional degrees is that it devalues learning as an end in of itself. Keat’s “Nightingale” and Hardy’s “Darkling Thrush” wont keep the wheels of commerce turning. They will, however instill in us a love of beauty for they speak to the soul which feeds not on bred, (https://newauthoronline.com/2016/04/27/benthams-head/).
For the article please visit http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3742420/A-traditional-degree-won-t-guarantee-job-Former-education-secretary-Lord-Baker-believes-qualifications-devalued.html.

(Baker is a lover of poetry and no Benthamite Utilitarian. See, for example https://www.theguardian.com/books/2000/oct/07/poetry. None the less his speech will, no doubt be used by the disciples of Jeremy Bentham in furtherance of their mechanistic view of the world).

Top Portuguese Academic Writes Book Decrying The English

A leading Portuguese academic has written a book branding the English as dirty, drunken and promiscuous. According to The Telegraph he also labels his hosts (for he teaches in the UK) as “animals”. The book is, apparently only available in Portuguese, there being no plans to produce an English language edition, (I can’t for the life think why that might be)! In the event that the book is, in fact translated into my native tongue I would be fascinated to read what this gentleman has to say about my fellow countrymen and I. For the article please go to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/11095057/Top-Portuguese-academic-decries-filthy-English.html