"Who Ruined the Humanities?"
First of all, I think this is the same article they run every month under a different title and by-line. It goes something like this:
When I was at beautiful Ivy or Oxbridge back in the olden days, I had an extremely famous professor (this time: Frank Kermode) who inspired me with the timeless truths of the humanities curriculum.
Alas, there were few such professors then, and there are none today. That pesky GI bill opened education to the masses, and now students want grades instead of reading literature for timeless truths. Literature has been sullied by the grade-grubbing paws of these students. Where is the pure love of literature of yesteryear?Now, I have a certain sympathy for the author's love of literature because I obviously think it's important, too, and what he says about the thrill of books--yes, I get that.
But is the best way to get students to have this relationship to books, where the books help them to experience their lives in different ways, to avoid teaching the humanities?
I'm imagining students, taking 15 credit hours, working 20 hours a week at Mickey D's. What happens if you toss them a copy of The Odyssey or Henry IV, Part I, and say, "Here, kid, this will change your life. Read it in your spare time"?
Maybe they'll read it, if they have the spare time of a Thoreau.
But context counts. Reading together counts, and talking about ideas with other people who've read the same books counts, doesn't it?