How do we find the student in a world of academic gymnasts an worker ants? By James T. Baker homepage
Pre-reading • Will you classify your teachers? Write down some stereotypes, affectionate or malicious, of teachers. • Prior to reading this essay, think about the different types of students you have encountered and the forms of behaviour distinguishing one from the other. Does each type behave in a predictable way? Which category would you place yourself in? Which types do you prefer or associate with, and why?
In-reading • Robert M. Hutchins: Hutchins, Robert Maynard • Sabbath (par. 3):encyclopedia article about Sabbath. • Has anyone else noticed that the very same students people college classrooms year after year? (par. 4) • Adjective Clause:clause • There is the eternal Good Time Charlie…, who makes every party on and off the campus, ….(par. 5) • …, the one who comes to college on an R.O.T.C. scholarship and …. (par. 6)
Building vocabulary • 1. a. a person who is tired from all the “combat” of being an academician • B. the seven-year itch is the reputed urge that men get to have extramarital affairs every seven years; seven years is also the time span between academic sabbatical leaves • C. become completely overwhelmed by facial acne
Building vocabulary • D. make himself physically and mentally exhausted • E. making a big deal about finding professors with leftist politics • F. getting a performance together • G. pays almost no attention to • H. a very “macho” type • i. spending one’s time trying to pick up girls in local teen hangouts, like ice cream shop. • J. one must pay special, careful attention to develop that person
Building vocabulary • 2. a. Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a combination of college studies and Army officer training • B. Central Intelligence Agency • C. a men’s cologne • D. a chain of soft ice cream stores • E. a person overly devoted to Christian dogma • F. what Gospel freaks call those who are not Gospel freaks • G. the most infamous of Stalin’s forced labor prison camps
Understanding the writer’s ideas • 1. Good Time Charlie/Charlene: a partier, although basically conservative • General Patton: a right-wing extremist • Egghead: an obsessive scholar, to the exclusion of real life • Performer: not an academic, really wants the dramatic life • Jock: the athlete • Academic Gymnast: underachiever, professional student • Medal Hound: seeker of honors rather than knowledge • Worker ant: overachiever • Lost soul: student with no direction in life • Saved soul: Jesus Freak • Happy child/Determined child: come with few expectations and so achieve them • Student: dedicated to realistic learning, professor’s protege
Understanding the writer’s ideas • 2. French Nobel Prize-winning author and man of letters (1844-1924). His quote describes the process of teaching, which is, after all, Baker’s main concern. Baker thinks France’s sentiment is an idealized one which unfortunately does not correspond to his own recent experience. • 3. He has been teaching for nearly fourteen years, and he is beginning to feel “battle fatigue.
Understanding the writer’s ideas • 4. Probably late middle age. He is declining physically, but his “eye” for understanding the ways of life is becoming more accurate with experience. • 5. • 6. In general, Baker seems to believe that students all have some alternative motive for attending college—that is, an alternative to the artful awakening of the intellect which is Baker’s underlying attitude toward what a college education can ideally be.
Understanding the writer’s ideas • 7. Because there are, indeed, a few real students who have a “vital capacity for growth” and are “able to fall in love with learning.” • 8. At first, a bit lost; distressed by what passes for education; has a vital capacity for growth and is able to fall in love with learning; acquires a taste for intellectual pleasure. To himself, because he feels that he still possesses a true love for knowledge and the learning process.
Understanding the writer’s techniques • 1. The thesis is not directly stated but can be summarized as follows: There are many students who do not know or care the first thing about learning, but the few who do, the true students, make the job of teaching worthwhile. His purpose is to amuse, but more than that, to praise true intellectual pursuit.
Understanding the writer’s techniques • 2. The stereotypes are fond conglomerates of the different types of students which one is likely to find on college campuses. Surprisingly, they are a fairly representative sample, even for today. The stereotyping allows Baker some room for humor and irony, as well as for comparison with his ultimate love, the real Student.
Understanding the writer’s techniques • 3. Certainly, he was “preaching” to the converted: those who could understand his humor and frames of reference. Had he been writing for another, nonacademic audience, he probably would have been more straightforward and might have avoided such stereotyping.
Understanding the writer’s techniques • 4. He is ironic and somewhat sarcastic throughout. The various names for student types alone illustrate his irony, which is further developed by his descriptions of each type. A shift in attitude occurs at the end, where her writes about the true Student, and, by extension, his own love of knowledge and intellectual pursuit. • 5. Because it has become “fashionable” and “politically correct” to eliminate sexism language, particularly in academia. Baker seems a bit sarcastic about this trend.
Understanding the writer’s techniques • 6. He capitalizes the various categories in order to make them separate entities. Truth is capitalized for its importance to Baker as universal. • 7. Both of them signify a type of finality. In the case of the Worker Ant, it is his or her extinction. Par. 17 signals the end of the category-by-category analysis and the beginning of the development of what is really the core of this essay—true intellectual pursuit and what it can be.
Mixing pattern • Definition is used to explain each category of student; description makes those definitions particularly vivid. Process analysis is used to show transformations of various types from one stage to another in their overall categories. For example, the Young General Patton (6) changes from an R.O.T.C. red-baiter to leftist to fundamentalist right-winger. Process helps to define the terms in which Baker understands these types.