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from “The Poet” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The poets made all the words, and therefore language is the archives of history, and, if we must say it, a sort of tomb of the muses. For, though the origin of most of our words is forgotten, each word was at first a stroke of genius, and obtained currency, because for the moment it symbolized the world to the first speaker and to the hearer. The etymologist finds the…

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What Is The Value Of An Education In The Humanities?

For those who go to college, the four years spent there are often the sole chance we give ourselves to think deeply and broadly about our place in the world. To turn college into nothing more than job training (emphasizing only those jobs that pay well), represents another missed opportunity for students and the society that needs them. Adam Frank. — Adam Frank, NPR

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Stem subject snobbery: a student’s view on why arts subjects matter

While everyone complains about the subjects their parents forced them into, I am in the dance studio every lunchtime. Dance gets me into school. Dance gives me something to pour my head and heart into. It gives me a feeling of belonging, creativity, security and freedom. | Then the bell rings and it’s back to Ohm’s law and circle theorems. Back to being told that the subject that makes you feel…

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Don’t Be Cruel

[M]angled syntax, disordered thinking, and frequent error happen to be hallmarks of a novice writer learning a new discourse. If we incorrectly assume they reflect a lack of effort or character — and base our feedback on that assumption — we do our students a disservice and risk inflicting real damage. | It takes enormous amounts of time and mental energy to craft substantive, constructive comments that will truly help students…

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When Robert Pinsky Wrote a Video Game

[F]or a brief time in the mid-nineteen-eighties major literary publishers, including Simon & Schuster and Random House, opened software divisions, and major bookstores stocked works of “interactive fiction.” Popular writers, including Douglas Adams and Thomas M. Disch, turned their capable hands to the burgeoning form. It was in the midst of this excited moment that the future three-term U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky wrote a video game called “Mindwheel,” which,…

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I Made My Friends Test the 19th Century’s Hottest Dating Tactic: Reading Aloud

There are perfectly good reasons to read aloud that don’t involve skirting Victorian restrictions on the stoking of passions, but I was somewhat amused by this assessment of the place of reading in today’s culture. It reminds me of the story of the local officials who, upon learning that the number of books in a family’s home is a good predictor of a student’s academic success, handed out free books…

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Books Wield a Dangerous Power

While we might point to violent video games or sexually explicit films as potentially dangerous and corrupting influences on tender or vulnerable minds, the novel is treated as uplifting and salutary, regardless of its content: a kale smoothie for the soul. When we do talk about books being ‘dangerous’, it is usually with a knowing nod and a wink: and the implication is that those of us in the know…