“Scholars of alphabetic literacy such as Eric Havelock and Walter J. Ong have pointed out that the object of their study has other qualities beyond ease of acquisition. For one thing, alphabetic literacy produces text and discourse, which is to say that it produces literature in its proliferating genres – the organized, impersonal, logically structured discussion of this that and everything.”
Good points, although other forms of writing allow for abstract thought as well.
A colleague who teaches in the humanities at the state college where I work also teaches at a nearby private college. In the colleague’s description, the private college is perpetually in the grip of a panic over the prospect of a drop in enrollment. The college’s administration has therefore instituted an unwritten but implacable policy the upshot of which is that the student is always right, no matter how absurd his complaint, and the consequence of which is that instructors must never tax students beyond an infantile minimum of scholarly exertion. Among the consequences of the consequence are that students refuse to undertake out-of-class reading assignments, fail quizzes related to those assignments, and then lodge complaints with chairs and deans against the instructor.
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