We rarely discuss college anymore without bringing up its exorbitant price tag. Is there an education bubble? Is a bachelor's degree worth the investment? If you didn't know better, you'd think universities were only available to us on the stock market.
What ever happened to the actual human souls who do the teaching and learning these institutions are rumored to promote?
Mark Edmundson, a beloved professor of English at the University of Virginia, has considered the personal meaning of education his whole career. His prose, exacting yet expansive, tough-minded yet optimistic, is that rare breed that reminds us that reading matters after all. He has been writing on this important subject for decades, sometimes in book form and other times in essays that have run in places like Harper's, the New York Times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Here Edmundson's writings on the subject are collected, including several that are new and unpublished elsewhere. What they show, collectively, is that higher learning is not some staid old notion but necessary medicine for our troubled modern selves. Edmundson enlivens his topic, putting parents back in the classrooms perhaps inhabited by their children. His carefully chosen words are filled with the wisdom and inspiration that make learning possible. This book is a must-read for any teacher, or student, and a refreshing reminder to parents.
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About the Author
Mark Edmundson teaches at the University of Virginia, where he is University Professor. A prizewinning scholar, he is also the author of Why Read?, Teacher, The Death of Sigmund Freud, and The Fine and Perfect Wisdom of the Kings of Rock and Roll. His writing has appeared in such publications as The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, and Harper's. He lives in Batesville, VA with his wife and two sons.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Marc Edmundson's Why Teach? is an impassioned defense of the spiritual values ("soulmaking") of immersion in literature, and it rewards the educated reader with many literary allusions and echoes of great writers. But it lacks an index to help readers relocate references to quoted authors, and, surprisingly for a tenured professor of English literature, it contains many errors of writing and proofreading, sometimes two in the same paragraph. Examples: "assent" for "ascent"; "picked" for "picket"; the verb "submit" for "subordinate"; the redundancy of "a mutual friend of both of them"; "chrons" for "chronos"; numerous split infinitives. And then there is the unnecessary resort to vernacular idioms: e.g., "piss off" for "annoy." Elegance would seem a far preferable accompaniment to the author's eloquence.