Just Say Yes

A recent, long, complex essay on the importance of the positive — especially in education: "Teach What You Love: A modest proposal for professors of literature" by Mark Edmundson in The American Scholar, 7 Oct 2020. Edmundson recommends that instead of negativity and criticism, "Literature departments should be about ... novels, poems, plays, and the rest." His thesis:

... Disapproval is easy. Contempt, derision, condescension, looking down: they come to us as child's play. Love's a lot tougher. A profession, Samuel Johnson says, has got to be open to people who possess moderate abilities and the willingness to work hard. ...

Instead, Edmundson notes, in English Departments "... Suddenly, the operative word was no ...". The results were not good, for the students or the professors or the profession. His concluding words:

Teach out of love, and the students will return. They are locked in a conformist world in which there is only one way, the standard way–the SAT, internship, recommendations way–to thrive. They need more options. They require more, and more various, visions of the good life. They don't need to hear again what the good life isn't. They need affirmations, coaxed from the great writers, of what it might be. Give them that, with conviction, humor, modesty, and maybe a little brio, and let us see what happens. The sun rises every day, a beautiful morning star. Why not, once at least, see if we might not try rising with it?

Teach literature. Teach the literature you love.

... and say, "Yes, and ..."!

(cf How to Write (2000-11-28), The Brownings 3 (2001-12-15), How to Write a Sentence (2011-05-19), ...) - ^z - 2020-10-25