It's probably symptomatic of my life and of Scholes' style that I'm
now still only about 7/8 of the way through _Rise and Fall_ . . .
But while I was in the car on the way back from Inkshed I was trying
desperately to finish it (I _wasn't_ driving, by the way), and
making notes on the later chapter where he comes down to cases --
stops decrying the malpractice of everybody heretofore and starts
saying what he'd do.
I agree, in general, with his decrying of the general malpractice,
and recommend the book for that. But when he gets to the nitty
gritty I find myself signing off: it feels to me very much as though
it's been a long time -- maybe forever -- since he taught any
students who belong to the same species as mine.
I happen to have in front of me as I read Rob's note the notebook I
was scribbling illegibly in as I bumped along New Brunswick's
version of the Trans-Canada Highway. I was about to do some
transcribing in any case, so let me see if I can find a couple of
pp. 122 ff -- he proposes a curriculum, but like everybody else, he
stays right in the stratosphere. He lists "courses" without thinking
about who would teach them, who would take them, and what would
happen in them. There's no theory of education or development
implicit in, or derivable from, the list of undeniably important and
logically related ideas and texts. He also ignores the actual
institutional context and the weight of history and traditions: it's
unimaginable how what he proposes could be instantiated in an
existing institution without simply starting over, with a whole new
institution (a la The Evergreen State College, maybe), from the
ground up (and facing the hopeless task of merchandising the new
certification or degree). I don't mean to make the demand that he
work out all the details before speculating, but still: if it's okay
in theory but doesn't work in practice, it isn't okay in theory.
And simply to say that we should put "canonical texts" into
relationships with the world our students live in rather than
teaching them as isolated "Great Books" doesn't help a whole lot.
Sure, I say, but I try to do that; and Sure, Dinesh d'Souza or
someone says, I try to do that, too.
I _like_ Scholes, in theory, and I liked _Textual Power_ in very
much the same way. His analysis makes sense, and is illuminating.
But when it comes to seeing what _difference_ it makes, you're on
Anybody else read it?
Russell A. Hunt __|~_)_ __)_|~_ Aquinas Chair
St. Thomas University )_ __)_|_)__ __) PHONE: (506) 452-0424
Fredericton, New Brunswick | )____) | FAX: (506) 450-9615
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