An eminent scholar and educator looks at the academic world from a crucial perspective for teachers—the perspective of those who don’t get it
Gerald Graff argues that our schools and colleges make the intellectual life seem more opaque, narrowly specialized, and beyond normal learning capacities than it is or needs to be. Left clueless in the academic world, many students view the life of the mind as a secret society for which only an elite few qualify.
In a refreshing departure from standard diatribes against academia, Graff shows how academic unintelligibility is unwittingly reinforced not only by academic jargon and obscure writing, but by the disconnection of the curriculum and the failure to exploit the many connections between academia and popular culture. Finally, Graff offers a wealth of practical suggestions for making the culture of ideas and arguments more accessible to students, showing how students can enter the public debates that permeate their lives.
"Graff is reopening the door on a major debate. In the wake of theory, in the wake of feminism, post-colonial criticism and all the rest, what is a liberal arts education supposed to be about? How should teachers teach? What should students learn? Intelligently, humanely, Gerald Graff is bringing all of these questions back home to the classroom, which, at least for now, seems exactly where they belong."—Mark Edmundson, Washington Post Book World
"[Graff] writes with lucidity and charm. . . . A worthwhile work trapped in an enigma."—Steven Lagerfeld, Wall Street Journal
- Won the 2004 David H. Russell Research Prize from the National Council of Teachers of English
- Won Honorable Mention for the 2003 Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize sponsored by the Modern Language Association