- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (July 11, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300105142
- ISBN-13: 978-0300105148
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind
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in Academe" because Graff nowhere talks about the material side of what Randy Martin calls the "managed university". Graff wants to build a better mouse trap to persuade more people to take "life of the mind stuff" more seriously, but nowhere does he say how and at what levels his project should be funded; and I'm coming to realize that it doesn't matter what mouse trap you have on paper or even experiment with on a small scale in your own classrooms--it won't go national (or even get beyond one's own school) unless it's perceived as something of worth; and here actions speak louder than words: it will only be perceived as something of worth if students and teachers know that it's being funded at a level that allows teachers to fully invest themselves in their jobs--because the institution is fully investing in them to do a good job by paying them a liveable wage that makes it unnecessary for them to moonlight and cut corners to free up time for that other "night" job, in my case translation work. It is a significant omission as I see it that Graff has no chapter such as "Penniless in Academe" or "Money Matters" that would address these basic issues, nor any index entry for "professor salaries," "wages," "money," and certainly none for that recent coinage "casualization". This ultimately leaves Graff up there in the high altitude superstructure: a superstar talking to other superstars despite the number of times he stoops to include student voices, "compositionist" voices, and other vernacular-speaking subalterns within the grand design of his "arguespeak". This exposes Graff to the "performative contradiction" (p. 89 in reference to D. Tannen) that is his own favorite "gotcha" technique for outing his opponents (and demonstrating that they are already halfway towards agreeing with him): Graff is himself an example of what he is talking about: "clueless in academe". But at least Graff, like the author of the recently reprinted manifesto on "bs", has gone further than most at diagnosing the problem. Now I am just saying, "Professoriat, heal thyself." I am glad to see that a broad array of plaintiffs are stepping up to sue the Department of Education over the federal mandates in the "No Child Left Behind" legislation that come with no accompanying funding: a sign that not everyone is "clueless" when it comes to the fundamental correlation between matter and spirit, between more money and at least "better" student writing.
Graff describes what students need to know to flourish in current academia, and contrasts that with the content of typical high school and university classes. We who teach have a specialized academic vocabulary, which we expect students to gain through osmosis. Teachers are so immersed in our subjects that we forget which ideas we take for granted are obscure to our students, so we come across as opaque blowhards.
The problem, Graff says, is that the most significant education themes are those of debate and argument. Yet because we teachers don't state this in student language, students see our questions and criticisms as condemnations. We need to teach them how to argue in respectful, productive terms on issues that are not self-evidently true, if we want students to succeed.
This book is not meant exclusively for teachers. Students will find useful chapters on how to create admission essays, negotiate writing intensive classes, and craft class papers without tears. Graff's explication of rhetoric and controversy covers every major theme you should have gotten in ninth grade English, and does so in clear language.
Though Graff comes from a composition background, he stresses how his ideas apply to all disciplines and can be addressed across fields. He uses multiple sources, and diverse educational traditions, to create a synthesis that proposes new options in teaching and studying. This book offers ideas for teachers, students, administrators, and anyone who cares whether students have the skills they need in school and in life.
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This book offers a critique of academic culture--in particular, a critique of the role of argumentation within academic culture.Read more