Friday, November 16, 2007

Casting Artificial Pearls Before Real Swine

I'm grading student papers in fulfillment of a big assignment that I prepared my class for over the course of three weeks -- roughly seven classes in all -- with readings, discussions, listening, and in-class practice assignments. The papers are on the whole so bad that I'm not sure whether to be angry at my students or at myself. Some of them have missed the mark by such a long shot that I wonder if they are innately unable to understand or appreciate an aesthetic that's not native or familiar to them. It raises all kinds of questions in my mind about the validity of teaching music or writing at all. Does beauty, especially if it's presented in difficult or abstruse terms, have any meaning in our world? Is it important that people learn about the artifacts of beauty that make up our shared cultural heritage and spur us to a greater understanding of our humanity? Or not?

That said, two of the papers I've read are outstanding. One is by an Italian national who is consistently one of the best writers and most original thinkers in my class.

3 comments:

Tim Kelly said...

Does beauty have any meaning? So a rose is a turd? Eh? Go get yourself a New Pepsi (WAKE UP!) and drink the sugar water of irony. Things take time.

Pentimento said...

Well, the axiom that a rose is not a turd is a concept I'm trying to introduce in my class, or at least that a turd is not a rose . . .

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