Showing posts from September, 2017

The Opposite of Algorithm

The late Harvard Prof Timothy Leary once advised students to "tune in, turn on and drop out."  I never made much of that remark except to view it as wanna-be transgressive marketing slogan, but it occurs to me that (setting aside the drop out part) it does capture two schools of thought about teaching.

Some of us try to tune in by making our subjects relevant to students' lives or interests: the semiotics of emojis, Zombie Economics, Philosophy, Death and Mortal Kombat. Anytime I've taken this approach it's been a wince-inducing failure.  A 56-year old white man whose interests include ancient literature, Northern Irish poetry, urban planning and fly fishing has little that's relevant to the 18-year old mind in the second decade of the 21rst Century.  

All I can do is try to turn on students to subjects and ideas that they usually aren't interested in or don't know exist.  It's a heavy lift because we live in a tune-in era.   Amazon, Netflix, I-Tune…