Monday, September 26, 2022

Democratic Education (more important than ever)


My 2nd year students have a mid-term exam in a few weeks, and it will be their first time writing an exam in a proctored and in-person setting in over 2 years (when they were only in grade 11 in high school). In tonight’s lecture I told them they would be examined on a book, and they should read the WHOLE book, and that they are  expected to write an essay answer in response to a general question about said book.  I could hear gasps and feel the angst among the nearly 300 students!    

One student asked if they could bring their notes into the exam, another if they could bring a copy of the book to reference during the exam. The look on their faces when I told them they were expected to show up with just a pen in hand, and to actually memorize details from their notes and the reading, in addition to formulate their own critical thoughts on the material. The irony is the book they are to be examined on is Nussbaum's aptly titled Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities.  Developing the skills of critical, independent thinking are perhaps more important than ever for the future success of our democracies given the educational setbacks of the past few years.