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Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense

In the middle of my insomnia, I stumbled upon an informal but engaging review called "Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense" and written by Black Man in the Cosmos. With candor, wit, and self-criticism, the writer considers both Fight for Your Long Day and Professor X's In the Basement of the Ivory Tower. The reviewer, a doctoral candidate at CUNY writing his dissertation on African American academic novels, is fair to both books and lets his wit shine through in a section on plagiarism. Here's an excerpt that I enjoyed:

17. One thing I liked about Fight For Your Long Day is that it feels very much like a 21st century novel. Kudera depicts a world of higher education where the aspirations of learning and self-improvement still exist, but they exist alongside a world full of the crass, crude, and pornographic, a world that militates against contemplation and learning, a world where everything from violence to paranoia to frivolous pop culture is filtered through the interactive screens that nearly all of the students carry around with them everywhere they go. The book is full of allusions to current events, politics and pop culture, and is probably oversaturated with too many references, but even in that sense it feels familiar.

I didn’t like the fact that the book had thinly drawn secondary characters. But then again, thinly drawn characterizations are sometimes all we are able to get from our students when they are being throttled through the higher education assembly line [italics mine]. I went to a small liberal arts college where I knew my professors and they became mentors. I went back to attend a retirement celebration for one of them last year. I haven’t seen any of the students I taught in my courses since the classes ended, and barely saw them outside of class when they were enrolled.

He numbers his sections of the review, and I also particularly recommend 9 through 12 on plagiarism, influence, and giving credit where credit is due. According to the blogger, this review was also printed in the GC Advocate, a CUNY online publication, but I could not find the September, 2011 issue online.

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