One of the dilemmas of art that I find fascinating is the conflict between entertainment and education. Should art distract us from our lives or should it try to teach us something about how our lives should be led? In between these two poles there is another way, realism. Realism just wants to imitate nature, to be the mirror we hold up to the world.
Suppose we take as a given that all fiction has a moral purpose, and that purpose may be explicit or implicit.
Two months ago, as the winter semester wound to its close, I read an intriguing note on miscommunication and measurement in grad school by William Tozier. He wrote
The point being: We often seem to forget how important issues of pragmatics and culture are in the pedagogic cycle. Instructors know the damned answer. The older the student is, the more confidence the instructor should have that the student also knows the damned answer.
Last month I read a blog entry about the ‘idea store’, a new merger of libraries and learning centers that is being tried out in Britain. Ever since I’ve been toying with the idea of learning communities. Today I did some internet research and discovered that there has been a lot of discussion about learning communities within the university. Most of these programs and ideas have focused on creating a community of students inside a university or college.
At the Weekly Standard Joseph Epstein reviews George Steiner’s “Lessons of the Masters”:
The “Lessons of the Masters” is a book about the teaching transaction, the dissemination (there’s that damn fluid again) of knowledge as it is passed from generation to generation through teacher to student. Why do some teachers so captivate their students that what they convey leaves a lifelong impression? The standard explanations hold that the great teachers know their subject, have boundless passion for learning, widen and deepen consciousness, provide in their persons a model of how a great-souled person ought to live.
Intriguing speculations on major issues facing the internet in 2004. “2004: The Turning Point: An overview of some of the issues that will change the way we use the Internet.” A list that parallels my own interests.
Email Redux - end of spam, probably end of SMTP to be replaced with authentication A Population in Search of a Community - blogging is too individual, current community tools are plagued by spam, need a way to be heard through blogging Blogging without Writing - interesting one tenth of one percent reply rule, that only 1 in 1000 people participate in online communities for the number of people who read.
Now this is a very interesting idea. I have been toying with the idea of a think-tank, university-public cooperation project for some time. Here’s a simple idea to take an free university and run it through the web.
AnarchistU: Toronto free school My former school-chum, roommate, and co-worker Erik “Possum Man” Stewart is hard at work on building a free-school called AnarchistU in Toronto, coordinated via Wiki.
The Anarchist U is a volunteer-run collective which organizes a variety of courses on social science and the humanities.