Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Marching for Marks

A small crush of students, determined and well-organized, are making their presence known under the watchful eyes of the Halifax Regional Police. A drum beat and chanting voices back placards crying out You Can’t Eat Money and Less Cash Cropping = More Hunger Stopping.

“They’re out to raise awareness about global food and hunger issues, but more than that, they’re finishing a class project worth 15 per cent of their final mark.

"Professor Cameron is adamant that, far from rabble-rousing, the course teaches essential citizenship skills. . .'This is just as important as learning how to read critically,or how to write papers,' he said."

“Marching for Marks: In a novel approach to civics, Dalhousie students learn how to bring about change through peaceful public protest,” The Globe and Mail, December 14, 2010

Sorry, but. Civil rights and peace protestors didn’t come out of liberal arts campuses because liberal arts students were better organizers than the suits in commerce and engineering. Professional organizers weren’t necessarily very important.  In the Sixties, Dylan and the California bands were far more important. They attracted the crowds and gave thin networks of activists the numbers necessary to fill the streets.
Are Canada’s young people so sedated that academics have to hand out marks to stir their “civic instincts?”
Teaching the how-to’s of street activism, Prof. Cameron, is not as important—or as intellectually demanding—as teaching students how to read critically, or how to write papers. Accomplished activists first acquire enough knowledge to sustain a point of view—a conviction, hopefully, with a street life after graduation.

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