Posted by: clholoman | December 9, 2011

Back to our roots

This is a couple of weeks old, but I just saw it today. Here’s a great story from The Chronicle: Teaching the Kite Runner at Penn State. If you’ve read the book, you can easily see where this is headed.

Once I opened the floor to comments and questions about how the novel might help us understand what was going on, the students erupted with reactions to the events of the past week. Many were angry, most were shocked, but they were also yearning for guidance on how best to respond. Rather than give them a blueprint for action, I urged them to use the skills they had acquired in class to guide their sense of ethics, their judgment, their responsibility to the community. The students seemed to respond well, especially to my encouraging them to remember that complex problems require complex solutions. 

I can’t say it much better than one of the commenters: “Is there a clearer illustration of what goes on in the best critical thinking and  humanities courses? . Whether the material is ancient or contemporary, these curricula teach critical thinking, empathy, historical dimension, and cultural literacies that we sacrifice at our own peril as a society.”

And, with apologies to Linus: that’s what liberal arts is all about, Charlie Brown.


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