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Monday, December 25, 2017

'The Difficulty Is The Point': Teaching Spoon-fed Students How To Really Read, by Tegan Bennett Daylight, The Guardian

I have two burning concerns: one is to give readers an insight into what it is currently like to teach at an Australian university. To satisfy this concern I want to tell you about semesters and classes shortened to save money on teaching; on passing incapable students simply to keep quotas up; on teaching students for whom attendance at university is no longer a necessary part of gaining a degree. This loops back to the idea of the university as business. Asking universities to stop making it easy for students to gain entrance, and making it easy for them to pass, is like asking Coca-Cola to slow down its sales. The logic of capitalism overrides everything.

The second concern is more abstract. I want to tell you about what it is like to teach literature to habituated non-readers, and why it is worth it.

Deck The Halls–Merrily But Warily, by Clare Beams, Ploughshares

In decorating we temporarily elevate, and we also reveal our own personal ideas of what elevation means. Decoration, like any outward expression of an inner vision, is an assertion of self—but also of capaciousness, because the whole purpose of decorating is to invite others into the vision we’ve had and tried to impose on the world. The trouble is that we don’t always know ahead of time how that vision will affect them once they meet it.

Why I Prefer Christmas Eve To Christmas Day, by Ian McMillan, BBC

I like Christmas Eve much more than Christmas Day - I always have. I enjoy the anticipation and the excitement and, because I'm a Yorkshireman, I love the tremblingly beautiful idea of the deferred gratification. With added baubles.

My dad would finish work early on this day. He'd get home in the middle of the afternoon and he'd hang his trilby up and he'd have a cup of tea and one of my mother's mince pies, and then we'd go to the farm in the next village to get the turkey. It was a ritual that felt as simple and beautiful as a piece of origami folded by a child and placed on a mantelpiece. In my memory it was always snowing. In real life, it probably hardly ever was.