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Bye Bye American Paideia

Cornel Music.jpgWhat a term with Cornel West. It would be embarrassing to say that I am in love, so I won’t, but Brother West’s teaching has more dimensions than one can safely count. Thrilling stuff. Three hours of challenging, original insights every Tuesday during 17X. Of course, there’s plenty to disagree with in his Weltanschauung (when’s the last time you heard that term in a classroom, let alone paideia and phronesis?): West has what I might term a humanist’s understanding of economics, but he more than makes up for this lacuna with insights and wisdom on a broad range of subjects. Wrap all that in a theatrical lecture style, power it with as big a heart as we have seen in Hanover since John Rassias went to the Great Beyond, and you have a memorable pedagogical experience. He even has T-shirt-wearing groupies:

Cornel Paideia.jpg

I have plenty more to say about West, the class and his students, but doing so would break my self-imposed rule not to violate the confidentiality of the Dartmouth courses that I am privileged to audit.

Addendum: The College’s Hannah Silverstein (Summer School: Reading W.E.B. Du Bois With Cornel West) and Bill Platt (In Classroom, Cornel West Addresses Charlottesville Incident) have written laudatory profiles of West’s teaching at Dartmouth.

Addendum: Is the good Dr. West the first of the College’s Summer Stars — an idea I pitched to Carolyn Dever when we met about three and a half years ago? America’s leading professors don’t usually teach in the summer, but for a generous five-figure stipend, I’m sure that a dozen or so of them could be persuaded each year to endure a summer in the Upper Valley. If each one taught two courses, sophomore summer would be enlivened beyond measure. Hell, if a great lineup of visitors could attract fifty or so summer students from other schools at full-boat tuition, we could pay for the whole thing — and have enough money left over to cover the golf course’s deficit.


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