Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My thoughts on Bloom and Altick:

In reading Altick and Bloom, I noticed a similar thought pattern: they both seem to have lost faith in the modern students ability and desire to learn. Bloom makes some astute observations of how rock music is degenerating students these days because it lacks the concentration enhancing power of classical music. This is not to say, however, that I am against classical, as I listen to both classical and rock music. Altick has a grim view of what it is to be a scholar, for example, on page 16 he says the scholar "must cultivate a low opinion of the human capacity for truth and accuracy-- beginning with his own." To me this is saying that to be a scholar you can't trust anyone. Altick goes on to illustrate errors made by various editors on various works, and how the scholar must always take a second look at material he or she finds even remotely suspicious. Bloom, on the other hand, paints a dark portrait of the American student, attacking everything from the inefficiency of American education as opposed to European education, the books used by American students, the music listened to, and even relationships engaged in. He speaks on how a student's home life isn't what it used to be in terms of a spiritual education, as well as how MTV is the ruination of today's youth (which I can partially agree with.) I do notice that Bloom has a few Emersonian ideas in his work. The idea of a return to the soul as necessary to revitalize the desire for knowledge struck me as reminiscent of Emerson, as well as Bloom's mentioning of a return to nature, echoing Emerson's essay Nature. However, I think that Bloom has a narrow minded view of what is "wrong" with the modern student, as he never factors in any types of learning disabilities. I come from an old-fashioned Protestant work ethic household, so my ideas may seem a bit archaic. I do agree with Bloom's ideas on relationships and the sometimes vast amounts of drama they can cause as being a detriment to the student(s). I also agree that a return to the soul is necessary for a renewing of desire to pursue knowledge.

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