Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Limping Onwards

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  • Keir Leslie,

    Danyl, are you seriously denying the possible bottom-line utility to New Zealand of studying the LOTR? We made a very large amount of money off precisely that cultural studies crap you reckon is a waste of money.

    (PS. would you please get around to noting that the only easily testable claim you made in this thread was false? There's a reason most people disagree with you.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Clayton, in reply to BenWilson,

    Is this really the debate you want to have, that you’ve been angling for for months? That the polite culture of PAS can harm robust debate? Be honest now, no polite tricky games, or that makes you a hypocrite.

    It comes to this, again and again on the internet, I think: that you can have the debate or you can have the community, but having both involves constant and ongoing compromise, unless, as in other places, the community manages to invest its identity in the notion of all-in debate. Sometimes the group will set aside notions of community in order to have the debate (attempting thereafter to be self-repairing) and sometimes proceeding directly to debate will provoke the gatekeeping of those who want to protect the community, moderators or otherwise.

    I strongly dislike being insulted or insulting people back, so if either of those reactions are invoked, I tend to duck out for however long it takes. Hypocrisy, perhaps, of a different stripe.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Not for the first time, I have to say big props to Ben for that comment. But I'd also say that PAS in the past has sustained very long and perfectly civil conversations in spite of sharp disagreement - on The Hobbit vs. The Unions, for instance.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    I think Danyl has a point about some of the dynamics in this forum. I've been called a troll several times and had the good faith of my arguments questioned and it seemed to me only because I was putting forward an unpopular view.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    , whereas at PAS the general tendency is for a dissenting voice to get absolutely buried with abuse. Once again, not a huge issue for me until people accuse me of being a dick when I respond to it.

    As I said upthread, if you were arguing in good faith, then I'm sorry for suggesting otherwise. But people do seem to detect an underlying sneer in your comments, which influences their reactions.

    But, come on: you have not been "buried with abuse", and certainly not in the way that either of us have at Kiwiblog. I've endured some really explicit nastiness there, as have the likes of Craig. Nothing of the kind has befallen you here.

    FWIW, I thought one of things I did wrong when I used to comment at Kiwiblog was in slagging off or mocking the site/community itself. I realised I was basically trolling, and resolved to only get involved when I genuinely had something to contribute. Which these days ain't very often.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Not for the first time, I have to say big props to Ben for that comment. But I’d also say that PAS in the past has sustained very long and perfectly civil conversations in spite of sharp disagreement – on The Hobbit vs. The Unions, for instance.

    That was kind of a triumph given what was going on in some other forums.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    You can teach people analytic thinking and reasoning skills without exposing them to subject matter that is trivial

    Well, but that 'trivial' matter being introduced to universities is actually a sign of greater democratisation, which is actually something you've been angling for as a good thing, yes? The fact that some classes engage with popular culture, for example, means that larger numbers of people are able to see university as accessible or approachable. And then perhaps that engagement with complex ideas *surrounding* trivial subject matter may take them on to more traditional, canonical works.

    (There are also a series of "who decides what's trivial?" questions which handily take us into big issues like class, race and gender. Which we might want to consider when we dismiss certain subjects as 'trivial'.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I meant to note that merely because you can't quantify the benefit in some sort of bean-counting fashion, that doesn't mean it isn't there.

    I consider my Eng Lit degree to have enormous public utility, given the number of things that I was better at when I finished it than I was before I started.

    The Shorter (and less effective) Ben: The One Rule is 'don't be a dick'. If you are a dick, you will be treated like one. I will worry when PAS starts being dickish to people who aren't dicks.

    Also, if you make a statement which can easily be construed as insulting to a large number of people, and more than one person in that group responds to it? You're not going to get a lot of sympathy for calling "dog-pile". Unless, of course, we're all supposed to get together and elect a spokesperson? Because it's Megan. (And Gio, and James, and Rob and Danielle. Okay, that didn't work.)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    You can teach people analytic thinking and reasoning skills without exposing them to subject matter that is trivial, or that they can effortlessly aquire on their own.

    Actually, no, or at least you shouldn’t if you’re interested in improving the efficiency of attaining educational outcomes.
    What we know about teaching language to adults is that usable language skills are not “effortlessly acquired”, but require some external guidance for maximal efficiency; and that the outcome is consistently improved by using subject material that engages the learner’s interest. (And that will be different material for different learners.) Similarly for courses teaching critical thinking, or communication skills.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to James Butler,

    Also, is it redundant to add that you don't need to have a Humanities education in order to benefit from a Humanities education? Teachers would be the obvious example - not only do I want my children to have high-school English teachers who have studied literature, but I want them to have primary teachers who have a real grasp of analytical reading and thinking. You might imagine that people who want to be teachers would have that already - most I know do, but I have known counterexamples, and I imagine teacher training needs to foster this.

    That's a great point. And I think we didn't include primary and secondary education in the conversation, where the humanities are - thankfully - still appreciated. (In fact I would say that the new NZ curriculum is based on a humanities approach to the whole of education. And it looks great and many countries envy it to us.)

    I saw a presentation yesterday at Vic on a digital humanities tool hosted at UCLA (HyperCities) by a graduate history student who teaches social science at Wellington High School. It was heartening for a number of reasons, and a great illustration of what the humanities are good for - as is another project I've been banging on about on this site from time to time, Kete Horowhenua. Not all of these things happen inside of universities, but it would be ludicrous to suggest that they would still happen if we didn't teach humanities subjects at tertiary level.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Well that’s easy. You can teach people analytic thinking and reasoning skills without exposing them to subject matter that is trivial, or that they can effortlessly aquire on their own. You don’t have to ‘study’ Harry Potter – you can go do an LLB.

    In what way is an LLB, if one is not going to be a lawyer, any less trivial than a BA, which might include analysis of Harry Potter? There seems to be no less value in being able to critically analyse what you can "effortlessly acquire on [your] own" than there is in being able to analyse an obscure body of arbitrary rules, precisely because it can be effortlessly acquired. Things like Harry Potter and LOTR make up a vastly greater part of society's discourse than the legal system, and surely deserve to be understood fully on their own terms for that very reason.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Danielle,

    There are also a series of "who decides what's trivial?" questions which handily take us into big issues like class, race and gender. Which we might want to consider when we dismiss certain subjects as 'trivial'.

    True. And you aren't going to learn the skills and background material for that consideration by studying law.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Emma Hart,

    The One Rule is ‘don’t be a dick’.

    Also known as Wil Wheaton's rule, with the rider "but it's OK to play one on television".

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I find it staggering what has appeared on this page in the past 14 minutes. Just sayin'.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    a digital humanities tool hosted by UCLA (HyperCities)

    Always wanted that for Auckland and other local places. Love how their site's About>History page is "Under construction".

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Sacha,

    Always wanted that for Auckland and other local places

    I want it for Foxton. Like, now.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to recordari,

    staggering

    what aspects?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Clayton, in reply to Emma Hart,

    You’re not going to get a lot of sympathy for calling “dog-pile”. Unless, of course, we’re all supposed to get together and elect a spokesperson? Because it’s Megan. (And Gio, and James, and Rob and Danielle. Okay, that didn’t work.)

    Yeah, nah, which is to say, thank you, no. I think there's value in scrutinising tonal differences (and ideas about tonal differences) online where we're words and avatars alone; for me at least it's a gear-up for much of the hair-curlery I get to experience in my line of work. Where being stirred leads to the kind of self-scrutiny Ben is talking about I think it can be profoundly helpful, despite the fact I don't particularly enjoy it. I should note, however, that as some of you know I do actually live with a pile of dogs.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Sacha,

    what aspects?

    Mostly the quantity. How could so much coherence be manifest in such a short space of time? Decided yesterday not to continue the debate about universities, so all I've got is cheerleading clackers on the sidelines.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to recordari,

    what aspects?

    Mostly the quantity. How could so much coherence be manifest in such a short space of time?

    I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm finding work a little challenging today (trying to grok Javascript which I didn't write - compared to that, heated intellectual discussions on PAS are puppies and kittens).

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Awesome - a PhD placement in visualising the past. In Wales.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to recordari,

    How could so much coherence be manifest in such a short space of time?

    collective wisdom

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to James Butler,

    trying to grok Javascript which I didn't write

    Metaphorically speaking, I'm doing something similar. Anyone got a Navigating Bureaucratic Dictum for Dummies book?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    There are also a series of “who decides what’s trivial?” questions

    Yes...and yes. One cheap shot the popular press aims at Media Studies (more so in the UK than here) is that it is a Mickey Mouse subject. My usual retort is of course it is for any teacher worth his/her salt will study MM as a cultural icon, Disney as a corporation (its role in the commodification of childhood, for example), its role in spreading cultural homegenity etc etc.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2539 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Danyl, are you seriously denying the possible bottom-line utility to New Zealand of studying the LOTR? We made a very large amount of money off precisely that cultural studies crap you reckon is a waste of money.

    Yes. It was made by someone who never went to university, and I don't think Lacanian/Gramscian analysis of LOTR played a huge role in adapting it to the screen.

    Actually, I feel bad about bringing up the Harry Potter, LOTR courses; it was a bit of a straw-man, I didn't expect people to argue that it was vital to the nations economy.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

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