Gerald Graff, Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1992)

In Beyond the Culture Wars, Gerald Graff writes:

[A]cademic institutions are already teaching the conflicts every time a student goes from one course or department to another, but they are doing it badly.... [S]tudents typically experience a great clash of values, philosophies, and pedagogical methods among their various professors, but they are denied a view of the interactions and interrelations that give each subject meaning. They are exposed to the results of their professors' conflicts but not to the process of discussion and debate they need to see in order to become something more than passive spectators to their education. Students are expected to join an intellectual community that they see only in disconnected glimpses. This is what has passed for "traditional" education, but a curriculum that screens students from the controversies between texts and ideas serves the traditional goals of education...poorly. (p. 12)
Graff thus favors a kind of teaching that makes the very topic of the course the conflicts that have taken place "behind the scenes" during the process in which professors decided what material the traditional course should study. The material decided upon strikes him as in itself less interesting and educational for students than studying the arguments and conflicts that gave rise to the agreement on what material should be taught. He decries traditional education that would merely present that material.


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Last modified: Thursday, 31-May-2007 09:42:24 EDT