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Cornel West: Academic Heretic October 10, 2007

Posted by Who? in Random.
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An unlikely chain of thougts lead to a Wiki article on Cornel West.  One of the External Links leads to this article by John McWhorter.  In the article, McWhorter, a self-proclaimed “serious academic”, criticizes West for his level of attention to his serious academic duties.

What exactly is the duty of an academic?

West is not a traditional academic.  I don’t understand the value of applying a normative analysis to someone for something they neither aspire nor profess to be.  The more important question is: what should the role of an academic be?

It seems that a traditional academic’s job is to conduct journal-bound research, often esoteric, while feeding inquiring minds less than stimulating material.  Had I been given the opportunity to take classes from more radical, non-traditional heretics, I can guarantee that my attendence would have consisted of more classes attended than skipped.  As opposed to my personal experience of the exact opposite under the traditional academic paradigm.

The most interesting and effective educators that I have encountered were those that were willing to interact in a “less than traditional” manner.  Long live non-traditional academics and passionate adjuncts!




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