Saturday, November 26, 2011

Episode 1160: For The University

For the past couple of days, I've been making a serious effort to get through one chapter of Thomas Docherty's For The University: Democracy And The Future Of The Institution each day. So far, so good. Plus I really like what he's saying in the book, which is incidentally available to read in its entirety here, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License. My favourite quote so far is this one from Chapter 4, 'Leadership: Legitimation and Authority': 'Education, however, is not the mere realizing of potential; rather, it is the ongoing making of more and more potential, the never-ending desire, identified now with the activity of research, to seek out the good, the true and the beautiful.' Perplexingly, his article on the New College for the Humanities for The Independent was labelled 'Impenetrable hogwash!' and being filled with 'ethereal descriptives', neither of which are criticisms I agree with. A review of the book in the New Statesman similarly claims it exemplifies 'the bad habits of theory-dulled seminar-speak'. Personally speaking though, I've never found Thomas to be one of those academics who've retreated so far into jargon that they can't communicate to anyone not steeped in the same discourse, and if the writing seems obfuscatory, maybe it's symptomatic of an attitude towards education that says knowledge has to be broken down into modular units that can be easily digested (after having been paid for).

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