December 6th, 2004


thoughtful essay on liberal education

Thanks to evan for pointing me to this essay, quoted below.
I don't teach to amuse, to divert, or even, for that matter, to be merely interesting. When someone says that she "enjoyed" the course -- and that word crops up again and again in my evaluations -- somewhere at the edge of my immediate complacency I feel encroaching self-dislike. That is not at all what I had in mind. ...
Current critics tend to think that liberal-arts education is in crisis because universities have been invaded by professors with peculiar ideas: deconstructionism, Lacanianism, feminism, queer theory. They believe that genus and tradition are out and that P.C., multiculturalism, and identity politics are in because of an invasion by tribes of tenured radicals, the late millennial equivalents of the Visigoth hordes that cracked Rome's walls. ...
To me, liberal-arts education is as ineffective as it is now not chiefly because there are a lot of strange theories in the air. (Used well, those theories can be illuminating.) Rather, it's that university culture, like American culture writ large, is, to put it crudely, ever more devoted to consumption and entertainment, to the using and using up of goods and images. For someone growing up in America now, there are few available alternatives to the cool consumer worldview. ...
My overall point is this: It's not that a left-wing professorial coup has taken over the university. It's that at American universities, left-liberal politics have collided with the ethos of consumerism. The consumer ethos is winning.
syntax tree

multilingual input method

scim 是很好,我喜欢了。
But it makes me realize how crappy my written 中文 is. Even with smart-pinyin, I can recall how to say things but I can't even pick out the right (heh, I started to put "write") form, even among characters with the same pronunciation.
Oh, and this is why I mentioned scim earlier: it wasn't running properly before (it was allowing me to select from "English" or "English"), but now I can select from (among others) Greek, Russian, Gujarati, Arabic, and about eleventeen varieties of Chinese input. Now it's updated to 1.0, it works right first time.