Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fellow Teachers

This weekend I was reading Philip Rieff's book Fellow Teachers: Of Culture and its Second Death and I was very much struck by his description of academia as "an aristocracy of intellect". I think we're almost embarassed to admit this, but he's exactly right. And once I read this it became very clear that this is a hierarchy that is worth preserving- not demeaning, but raising those who live within it. I answer to my professor and my students answer to me. Of course, because we do have authority, we have a special responsibility not to abuse our position of authority. I do not insult the students or abuse them. I do not prostelytize to them or attack their opinions. However, we shouldn't pretend that we are not in authority, or assume that authority is de facto problematic. Authority can order one's life in a way that allows for growth.

I think what bothers me about the attempts to turn education into a consumer product (which I've complained about before) is that I fear that education ceases to be a moral good when it becomes a consumer good.

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