Teach the past or the future?

This comes from Mark Bauerlein, a professor at Emory writing at the Chronicle of Higher Education:

If we believe that the newspaper is a fundamental institution of civic engagement and a healthy democracy, colleges should envision the resurrection of newspaper reading as an element of their civic mission. Many colleges and universities have created civic engagement units of their own, and perhaps they should consider a subscription initiative for all entering students.

And this comes from Ben Williams, a student up the road writing at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian about the Boston Globe facing the grim reaper nose-to-nose:

The Globe’s being on the brink of failure is not a bad thing either; it is a necessary thing. Like the ghost of Christmas future, sometimes a cold, stony grave needs to be laid out before someone’s ways are changed.

Why don’t you two get together for coffee so the student can teach the teacher. Why should universities tie themselves to the past? Why should they go against the flow? They should listen to their students and see that they’re on the internet and help them find news there. But I doubt the students are the ones who need the help.

  • No-one cried when cellphones started replacing payphones. Why should we cry when the internet is replacing newspapers?

    • majik


      Payphone = 2 way communication
      Cellphone = 2 way communication

      Newspaper = 1 way communication
      Internet News = 2 way communication

      Just look at all the news stories shaped by user videos, photos and comments.

      Rather than relying on traditional news editing, the media today deluges use with the all information upfront (including user generated content) and in effect we are forced to become the news editors. Sifting through all this information means the truth and facts often get lost.

      Newspaper reading is a lesson in news editing.

  • Jeff: I’ve reached the conclusion through decades of teaching how to teach, that we can only teach what we are being. Those identified with institutions can deliver formal content, but not enter into conversations. Institutions of higher ed are not Googley or platforms for messing around with. They don’t provide an elegant structure for conversations that are already occurring among students who are educating themselves with the world as their textbook.

    Institutions can, however, teach: how to maintain institutions as if they will endure into the future, how to become authoritative experts, how to fit inside policy driven bureaucratic structures and how to comply with those above will dishing it out to those below. In other words, they can teach what they are being.

    Meanwhile we will flow into the future of platforms and mess around with each others’ minds, creations, contributions and connections.

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