Intrinsically Interesting

 Gary Gutting makes important points about the worth of a college education, but much of what he says applies to life at BHS.

“Teachers need to see themselves as, first of all, intellectuals, dedicated to understanding poetry, history, human psychology, physics, biology — or whatever is the focus of their discipline.  But they also need to realize that this dedication expresses not just their idiosyncratic interest in certain questions but a conviction that those questions have general human significance, even apart from immediately practical applications.  This is why a discipline requires not just research but also teaching.  Non-experts need access to what experts have learned, and experts need to make sure that their research remains in contact with general human concerns. The classroom is the primary locus of such contact.

“Students, in turn, need to recognize that their college education is above all a matter of opening themselves up to new dimensions of knowledge and understanding.  Teaching is not a matter of (as we too often say) “making a subject (poetry, physics, philosophy) interesting” to students but of students coming to see how such subjects are intrinsically interesting.  It is more a matter of students moving beyond their interests than of teachers fitting their subjects to interests that students already have.   Good teaching does not make a course’s subject more interesting; it gives the students more interests — and so makes them more interesting.

“Students readily accept the alleged wisdom that their most important learning at college takes place outside the classroom.  Many faculty members — thinking of their labs, libraries or studies — would agree.  But the truth is that, for both students and faculty members, the classroom is precisely where the most important learning occurs.”

Read the rest (and part 2 as well): http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/what-is-college-for/

Advertisements

Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s