Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reading and Bluffing


I wonder if you see a substantial difference based on educational attainment here. It seems to me that college (at least as we did it at Harvard) largely consists of lessons on how to pretend to have read various books. How many section discussions of British Moralists 1650-1800 (by far the best introduction to the subject!) did I bluff my way through?

Whether it is a high school English teacher's job to teach kids to read or pretend to read is a real issue, which is itself influenced by the students' parents' educational attainment and class. I believe all students can generate meaningful and insightful readings, interpretations and critiques of literature, and it is hard for nearly all of them, regardless of background. However, it is way easier for kids who grew up around books and book talk to crank out make-work and bluff for English class.

The ascendance of AP and college prep as the primary goal of the education of disadvantaged students reflects a misguided emphasis on playing school over understanding.

1 comment:

Stephen Downes said...

The difference between my education and a Harvard education, evidently, is my having read the books they discussed.