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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: January ::
Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0143.  Wednesday, 29 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 11:30:12 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0136 Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders

(2)     From:   Eric Armstrong <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 10:08:27 -0500
        Subj:   Re:SHK 8.0136  Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders

(3)     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 19:33:35 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0136  Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders

(4)     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 17:56:53 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0136  Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 11:30:12 -0500
Subject: 8.0136 Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0136 Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders

Bill Godshalk writes: "However, I think it's less likely that we have a
category-gene, and categories are contexts."

All recent evidence points to the fact that indeed we do have a
"category-gene," if by that we can mean that humans are impelled by their
brains to sort and classify the jumble of the universe.  It's a definite
survival skill, if you think about it: big furry objects with pointy teeth =
bad... small furry objects = tasty...

This is how we learn, by creating those category/contexts, and then when new
information disturbs our senses, either fitting the new information into those
categories, or adjusting the categories.  We need, seek, and create contexts.

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company
and an education consultant to boot

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Eric Armstrong <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 10:08:27 -0500
Subject: 8.0136  Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0136  Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders

 Bill Godshalk writes:

>And you are in very good company in this belief.  Yes, it does seem likely
>that we humans have a language-gene.
>
>However, I think it's less likely that we have a category-gene, and categories
>are contexts.  We create categories with language in our desire to make our
>lives meaningful.

Since I have been reading Steven Pinker's remarkable _The Language Instinct_
for the past 6 months every night before bed(I am SUCH a slow reader!), I feel
that this statement is possibly contradicting itself. (Though I am no
linguistic expert, and taking on Bill Godshalk, whose e-opinions I greatly
admire, is a daunting task...)

 If language is part of our make up, and category making is part of how our
brains make sense of the world (dividing the world into "noun phrase" chunks
and "verb phrase" chunks, recognizing concrete objects compared to action,) we
must group things, actions and ideas as a basic step of developing language.
This allows us to make sense of our world, and more importantly to communicate
that world view with one another. It is instinctual, and as such I think it is
much more complicated than "having a language-gene", though "-gene" seems like
a pretty common short form for instinct these days, I must say.

Categories do create contexts, I agree, but whether we desire to make our lives
meaningful or whether we can't help BUT make out lives meaningful is, I think,
my quibble. I might rephrase it, "We make our lives meaningful with language in
our desire to understand our categories."I am willing to concede it might be a
chicken-and-egg-like scenario...

Eric Armstrong

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 19:33:35 GMT
Subject: 8.0136  Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0136  Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders

At the risk of boring the non-British members of the list: the crucial point
about the National Curriculum in Britain is precisely that it is applied only
to schools in the State sector. 'Private' (i.e. 'public' in the curious
nomenclature that history has given us) schools do not have to follow it.  The
assumptions that power this peculiar divide are symptomatic of exactly what is
wrong with the British education system - that private schools are assumed to
be providing the 'best' education, and so can be left alone to get on with it,
whereas the teachers in the state sector, infected by nasty leftist ideology
from the 60s have to be told what to do.

I  could bang on at inordinate length about the poisonous implications of the
private-state divide in British education, but it's scarcely relevant to this
list.

David Lindley
University of Leeds

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Jan 1997 17:56:53 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 8.0136  Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0136  Re: Ideology/Teaching British to the Englanders

John Lee writes

> If Egan's argument is that the Conservative government
> is chopping up Shakespeare (as opposed to trying to insist
> that students at least read some) to make the world safer
> for their own brand of ideology, then should it follow that
> fee-paying schools teach even smaller gobbets? And if so,
> do they?

When 'ideology' is used to mean 'dogma' (as here) there can be little useful
exchange with someone like me who insists on using it to mean 'world-view'. We
are back at the beginning of the thread, which started with Godshalk's
quotation of Kavanagh's definition and a request for comments.

There is no simple proportionality between the size of units into which
Shakespearian texts are broken and the degree of usefulness to a conservative
agenda. One notes that claims such as 'Shakespeare was a tory' supported by
quotation of a couple of lines can be made to look silly by placing those lines
in context. The National Curriculum not only requires the teaching of
decontextualized extracts, but also focusses attention on a fragment of the
Shakespeare canon.

Gabriel Egan
 

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