school: good for what?

Hats off to Neha and Susan for their work on conferences and group work. This leads to a question: where is the school?

Are they learning more by having to scramble for speakers and get people where they need to be, or in their courses? I don’t know. But they’re both building things that other people will use, break, and judge. Is the essay and the requisite work for such things enough: the little writing tasks that will be read by the teacher and marked on, the things that are stacking up in my office that noone wants to come by and grab?

Anticipation, planning, speaking, writing with the risk of laughter. Tough skills to get across in the arbitrary 15 week semester.

Where is the real school? What would William Blake say?

“The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it” (MH&H).

4 thoughts on “school: good for what?

  1. gibb

    I don’t know what Blake would say. He’s dead. And would he think the same today as he would back then if he weren’t? But here’s what I think–and it’s something I was noticing w/Neha yesterday.

    What makes you think that “school” stops at the parking lot? School is all around us, every day. Informal education begins the second we cry and are given a breast–we’ve just learned our first lesson. What we learn in the next six years is what we bring TO formal education, which returns the favor and supplements our life knowledge with ways and means to communicate with others through a refinement of the language, through history and math and all the rest that creates a bond both with our ancestors as well as our contemporaries.

    Every little writing task is practice for the business report, the meeting plan, the grocery list. We use it all–the spelling, the grammar, the organization and planning of the simplest note, i.e. “Went uptown for gas–back in 5 minutes, love…” A “D” on an essay means you didn’t clarify your point, i.e. “Gone.”

    Communications, Philosophy, Psychology are, at the very least, windows into our fellowmen. English Comp, Lit, Journalism, Creative Writing, are all refinements of putting what we’ve learned into more comprehensible and sometimes eloquent form.

    Where is the school? Like a God, everywhere. Where is the student, I might ask. With our fine English Dept. why are there parts of the website that haven’t been updated in three or four years. Why isn’t student input encouraged–it’s free labor, so we can’t blame Rowland.

    Maybe this is where Narratives can give something back in both formal education and life experience.

  2. Neha

    No the school doesn’t stop just at the parking lot. But there aren’t very many people who realize that. For whatever ends that the school is used to attain, most students feel as though a burden has been lifted off their shoulders once “formal education” has been completed.

    It’s unreasonable to expect every person to be committed to lifelong learning in an institution that provides for it. Somethings need to be folded into life with a passion.

    However, passion is hardly innate. It needs to be instilled, inspired,polished, and nurtured before an individual is ready to accept the responsibility. This is where teachers come in. Good teachers can make the difference between quitting too early or holding out for just a little longer. There’s a reason I’m back in the British Lit class.

  3. Bevery

    Sometimes it stops at the parking lot, and sometimes people comeback to the parking lot. There are endless possibilities. Re-entering a life that was once left behind for other opportunities can be like another chapter in a book. This chapter can be a time when you come back to where you left off with an appreciation for others and their interests. It can be a time when learning is fresh and new and all yours to conquer.

  4. Deb


    I agree that there are many people who seem to feel that their formal education is a burden. These are the people who love cancelled classes and ‘easy teachers’. I don’t get them at all.

    To a small extent, I resent that formal education is being required of me by life. But, I recognize and embrace the value that it can bring to the other enriching learning that I do elsewhere. I also appreciate the nice way that it gathers people who love learning together, where I can conveniently bump into them and have intelligent discussions. :-)

    With that said, I have high expectations of this formal education. I am speding my time and my money at this school, and I am invested in this process. So, I don’t know about passion not being innate. I am a passionate person, that has always been there. A good focus for this energy, well that sometimes needs to be revealed to me ;-)

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