October 26, 2006

Spectator in Reactionary Rant Shock!

James Shaw writes in the Spectator that he left a University Theology course at an institution he assures us was in the top ten because he was under worked and under stimulated- because he saw students around him doing little work and felt that it wasn't worth his time to acquire a degree. Whilst gracchi has considerable sympathy for any student beginning at university and finding the support less than they had at school, I feel some sympathy with those who want to be stretched. But British Universities might not provide the courses, but they do especially at the higher level provide the facilities. There is no difficulty for a person like Mr Shaw to acquire books, to find and meet postgraduates, to even attend seminars and lectures, which will stimulate their mind. Indeed learning off the syllabus at university is one of the pleasures of going there- historians can learn about Feynman, physicists about Gibbon, English Students about Wittgenstein and philosophers can savour Jane Austen. Given that Mr Shaw says that he was not stretched he could have taken that approach further: instead of dropping out because he was too good for the institution concerned. Mr Shaw underrates informal learning and overrates formal learning- if you don't feel a lecturer tells you enough- don't desert academia but get out into the library Mr Shaw and read and read and read.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely spot on. I hate to say it but as the late Queen Mother used to put it 'if you're bored it's your own fault'.


Gracchi said...

Thanks Ben I got wound up by this article it was probably an overreaction but I feel sympathy for people who drop out because they are under pressure or can't cope but to quit because the university isn't good enough for you, to attack your fellow students and write an article for the Spectator about it is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I've actually found the article now. What a spectacularly obnoxious individual. Interestingly the very fault he castigates universities for, i.e. spoon feeding students, is the very thing he craves. I've been to three different universities and at all of them staff delight in anyone who challenges them and makes their life interesting. I'm sure that Mr Shaw will go on to a fantastic career in journalism...He's not Mary Ann Sieghart's child either Intelligensia or Brainella is he? If so then the article should have been written in minoan

gorkyporky said...

As one good informal educator once said " not expectation but hope". That was ivan illich if i recall.

This philosophy that guides a critical informal education seems to be one that our Spectator person might reflect upon.

With a name like Spectator however it is difficult not to be passive.

UK universities have little or nothing to do with this.

Gracchi said...

Yes I agree.