Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Tragedy Of The Common Culture

Someone sent me an article "How A Generation Lost Its Common Culture" by professor Patrick Deneen of Notre Dame.  It starts thus:

My students are know-nothings. They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.

Ah, so it's a trip down memory lane.  I've been hearing this "students are so dumb these days" jazz for as long as I've been alive, and I'm pretty sure it goes back well before me (to, say, Socrates).

In fact, when I read Deneen's paragraph, I thought for a second it was a cut-and-paste job from Allan Bloom's 1980s bestseller The Closing Of The American Mind.  The 80s was a golden age of concern over student ignorance.  For instance, there was the kinder approach of E. D Hirsch's Cultural Literacy, which listed thousands of facts that everyone needed to know (but, by implication, didn't).

I note that the loss of our common culture was a big deal in the 1980s because that's when Patrick Deneen was in college.  And he turned out fine (or at least a lot of his generation did).

Look, 18-year-olds are only gonna know so much, so it's pretty sad when someone who's spent decades learning literature, history, political science or whatever (or just watching the news) mocks them for lack of enlightenment.  I suggest he spend more time teaching and less whining.


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8:44 PM, April 04, 2018  
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12:21 AM, July 26, 2018  

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