A Morning Peacock of Links (5/24)

Dancing on the edge of finished

Before, when your shift was done, you were finished. When the inbox was empty, when the forms were processed, you could stop.

Now, of course, there’s always one more tweet to make, post to write, words with friends move to complete. There’s one more bit of email, one more lens you can construct, one more comment you can respond to. If you want to, you can be never finished…

The Unteachables: A Generation that Cannot Learn

Janice Fiamengo, a professor of English at the University of Ottawa, on the dangers of coddling/enabling students and how proverbially handing them participation trophies could spell disaster for their post-school lives. In a lot of ways, the hardships this article describes parallel a lot of my own struggles during and right after college:

…The problem, as traditionalists have argued (but without much success), is that the utopian approach hasn’t worked as intended. Rather than forming cheerful, self-directed learners, the pedagogy of self-esteem has often created disaffected, passive pupils, bored precisely because they were never forced to learn. As Hilda Neatby commented in 1953, the students she was encountering at university were “distinctly blasé” about their coursework. A professor of history, Neatby was driven to investigate progressive education after noting how ill-equipped her students were for the high-level thinking required of them; her So Little For the Mind remains well-worth reading. In her assessment:

The bored “graduates” of elementary and high schools seem, in progressive language, to be “incompletely socialized.” Ignorant even of things that they might be expected to know, they do not care to learn. They lack an object in life, they are unaware of the joy of achievement. They have been allowed to assume that happiness is a goal, rather than a by-product.

The emphasis on feeling good, as Neatby argued, prevents rather than encourages the real satisfactions of learning.

Writers Write and Writers Read

Aaron Armstrong on how, just like marriage and children, you can’t have one without the other when it comes to reading and writing as a writer:

Perhaps this seems contradictory since I was recently wondering about how much is actually realistic for one person to read. And maybe it is, depending on your perspective and your purposes for reading. If you’re trying to retain all the information, you’re probably better off not reading dozens and dozens of books in a year; however, if you’re a writer, then you need to be reading constantly. Not to remember everything, but to let different voices influence your style. To see how different people write (or, depending on the subject matter you gravitate toward, which authors are using the same ghostwriters).

5 Inconvenient Truths about the Writing Life

Daniel Darling on 5 things about writing you often find out about only after experiencing them firsthand.


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