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Function of Criticism/What it means to be a student

Posted by on Jan 1, 2011 in General | One Comment

The NYT book review has a series of essays on the nature of criticism. This quote, from Alfred Kazin’s 1960 piece, The Function of Criticism, made me wonder about what we ask of our students:

“Any critic who is any good is going to write out of a profound inner struggle between what has been and what must be, the values he is used to and those which presently exist, between the past and the present out of which the future must be born. This struggle with oneself as well as with the age, out of which something must be written and which therefore can be read — this is my test for a critic.”

What if student is substituted for critic?

“Any student who is any good is going to write out of a profound inner struggle between what has been and what must be, the values he is used to and those which presently exist, between the past and the present out of which the future must be born. This struggle with oneself as well as with the age, out of which something must be written and which therefore can be read — this is my test for a student.”

Isn’t this how we want to challenge our kids and our students? To become aware of the difference between what is and what should be, what they believe and what others believe, where they fit in the larger world?