Friday, January 11, 2013

“Greater seriousness”

One more passage from Diana Senechal:

Beyond giving students a foundation, schools must teach them what commitment means. Without apology, they should teach students to read, write, and practice without any distractions from the Internet, cell phone, or TV, and to make a daily habit of this. It doesn't matter if they claim to know how to “multitask”; multitasking amounts to compromise, and they need to learn to offer more of themselves. Schools should also make use of technology but should also teach students how to do without it. Otherwise they will depend on text messages during class, musical practice, lectures, daydreams, and even rest. Over the long run, the setting aside of distractions will give students permission to take the work seriously. Many young people latch onto a casual attitude about their studies; they need to be helped out of this. Many secretly long to be pushed into greater seriousness.

Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2012).
“Many secretly longed to be pushed into greater seriousness”: yes, or at least some. I see it every semester.

I recommend Republic of Noise to any reader who believes, as Senechal does, that a life of thinking and feeling requires a measure of solitude — not hermetic isolation but the freedom of introspection. And I also recommend this book to any reader who believes that “collaborative learning environments” and “facilitated team activities” and the like represent a way forward in education. As Richard Mitchell once wrote, “It is only in a mind that the work of the mind can be done.”

Also from Republic of Noise
“A little out of date”
Buzzwords and education
Fighting distraction
Literature and reverence

[The sentence from Richard Mitchell appears in The Graves of Academe (1981).]

comments: 2

Daughter Number Three said...

I've appreciated all of your Diane Senechal quotes. Thanks.

Michael Leddy said...

You’re welcome. Reading this book has strengthened my resolve not to go with the educational flow.