Are Our Own Ways of Teaching Appropriate?

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"Tradition in short is taught by action, not by idea or principle.  For its teaching, oral societies have to provide suitable performance context attended by audiences who will be invited or invite themselves to share in what is on the one hand a language of specialist, yet on the other a language in which all to varying degree participate... The festival became the occasion of epic recital and choric song and dance...On such occasions the verse of an oral society discovers its means of 'publication.'"

--From page 77 of Eric A. Havelock's chapter 8, "The General Theory of Primary Orality," of his book The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present


As I read this quote from Havelock, I was immediately reminded of Howard Rheingold's essay "Look Who's Talking" in Tribble and Trubek's Writing Material.  Havelock focuses on explaining the way that the oral method of communication was used to pass on important knowledge about that society.  This was their primary way of teaching the youth about the culture's past, maintaining cultural values in the future, and promoting the recording of future cultural values and important events.  However, in Rheingold's essay, he discusses how the Amish choose to strictly evaluate technology before fully accepting it as part of their culture.  I think that they do this because all that they want to pass on to their youth about their culture can be done so through oral stories and preaching, through apprenticeships and one-on-one teaching,  and through print sources.  By opening their society up to technologies like the Internet, they will be less able to pass on their cultural values because so much time will be spent on retaining or searching for information that does not reflect what their society is all about.

I think this is an important idea for even us to think about.  The Internet is great because it allows for the freedom of speech; however, I think that we also need to consider whether or not it is promoting our societies values.  Is freedom of speech a value that so important to us that we are willing to pass on some of the negative content that is on the Internet to our youth as part of our culture?


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