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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mahmood Mamdani on the American Academy

"One of the most damning words in the American academy is to be described as controversial. What should be the essence of scholarship has become a critique of scholarship, which is bizarre to me. Completely. The student experience is a tough one. You are judged constantly by the very people who teach you, and these are the very people who tell you that you should learn to think for yourself and think free of consequences. Yet the consequences are right there – there is the exam, and marking, and there are the risks you must take if you deviate from what the professor thinks, whether it’s a right-wing professor, a left-wing professor or a centrist professor. There is a cost of deviation. So between the language, the rhetoric and the reality there is a huge gulf. And the student knows it better than anybody else. In a way, the student is being made to to conform – to not say that which he or she thinks if it deviates from the norm. So we’re turning out kind of a group of mercenaries. It’s always a question for me: How do you deal with this catch-22? How do you say to the student, “Write what you think,” and yet you know that the student knows that you will be grading that student?" - See more at: http://www.warscapes.com/conversations/conversation-mahmood-mamdani#sthash.kSsvuZai.dpuf

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