Keith Hart on Sun, 12 Oct 2003 16:17:27 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> New Media Education and Its Discontent

"It is these places [some universities] that are the guardians of
intellectual life....They cannot teach the qualities that people need in
politics and business. Nor can they teach culture and wisdom, any more
than theologians teach holiness, or philosophers goodness or sociologists
a blueprint for the future. They exist to cultivate the intellect.
Everything else is secondary. Equality of opportunity to come to the
university is secondary. The matters that concern both dons and
administrators are secondary. The need to mix classes, nationalities and
races together is secondary. The agonies and gaieties of student life are
secondary. So are the rules, customs, pay and promotion of the academic
staff and their debates on changing the curricula or procuring facilities
for research. Even the awakening of a sense of beauty or the life-giving
shock of new experience, or the pursuit of goodness itself -- all these
are secondary to the cultivation, training and exercise of the intellect.
Universities should hold up for admiration the intellectual life. The most
precious gift they have to offer is to live and work among books or in
laboratories and to enable the young to see those rare scholars who have
put on one side the world of material success, both in and outside the
university, in order to study with single-minded devotion some topic
because that above all seems important to them. A university is dead if
the dons cannot in some way communicate to the students the struggle --
and the disappointments as well as the triumphs in that struggle -- to
produce out of the chaos of human experience some grain of order won by
the intellect. That is the end to which all the arrangements of the
university should be directed."

Noel Annan The Dons: mentors, eccentrics and geniuses, University of
Chicago Press,1999, pp. 3-4.

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