Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Understanding and Explaining

 “There is an important difference between learning which is concerned with the degree of understanding necessary to practice a skill, and learning which is expressly focused upon an enterprise of understanding and explaining.” -- Michael Oakeshott

The university is, of course, supposed to be devoted to the second, not the first, writes Stanley Fish.

He writes about the nature of higher education in his NYTimes blog this week.  He discusses a new book that hopelessly chronicles the transformation of universities into institutions that only train young people for specific occupations.

The author of the book, Frank Donogue, describes how the "life of the mind" has been disparaged in American culture since the turn of the 20th century.  It is a sad story, without a happy ending, and raises the question as to whether there will be another generation of professors in the humanities.


Working To Make A Living said...

Here is a Link to a book published by UPENN you might find interesting.

"why education is useless"


Lake Winneblogo said...

Thanks for the link -- Looks like something worth checking out.