Why Teach?: In Defense of a Real Education

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Release Date: 
August 20, 2013
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Why Teach? In Defense of Real Education is the proverbial cry in the wilderness—a cry for what was and for what can be.

A professor of English at the University of Virginia, and author of nearly a dozen other books, author Edmundson sets the stage for his provocative tome by openly stating, "the major enemy of education in America now is American education, university education in particular."

Few educators would hurl such a challenge to accuse the corporate mentality of ruining education. Edmundson does so in spite of the fact, he is biting the very hands that feed him. That's courageous.

The challenge does not end there. He takes aim at college students. He writes, "If you want to get a real education in America, you are going to have to fight. To get an education you're probably going to have to fight against the institution you find yourself in—no matter how prestigious it may be."

Not satisfied in his staggering criticism of higher education, of gluttonous corporate America and its demand for conformity, sports, and students who expect cool, Mr. Edmundson lays out what he considers a good teacher to be. He says a good teacher must perceive the world in alternative ways and strive to get their students to test new perspectives. He says, "Teaching is about being what people are now prone to call counterintuitive, but to the good teacher that simply means being honest."

Despite the overall appeal to maintain the humanities, to reject the production of a work force mentality at the university level, Mr. Edmundson fails to get specific as to what to do to assuage the wholesale moneymaking goals of American education. The lack of specificity is the central weakness of the book, yet it provokes thought—serious thought!