Monday, August 25, 2008

The secrets of a legendary writing professor - "Kerouac got an A."

The scholarship dude is a bit behind in his reading so please excuse the delay in bringing you this column from the July 27 edition of the Education Life Supplement to the New York Times.  It's the story of the legendary writing professor Mark Van Doren who inspired a veritable who's who of 20th century literary giants during his 40 years at Columbia University.  His former students included Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, Lionel Trilling, Herman Wouk, Richard Giroux and Arthur Sulzberger, among many others.  You'll have to read the column yourself, written by Professor Van Doren's grandson, to decide whether excellent students make an excellent professor or vice versa (or perhaps some combination thereof), but in the meantime, let me leave you with this tantalizing tidbit from the author:

"In an age when higher education is threatened with a relentless technology that threatens to dispense with human beings altogether, Professor Van Doren exemplified a tradition of inquiry that celebrates personal interaction as the path to a meaningful education — one shaped by spontaneity, emotion and, yes, reverence."

I am the scholarship dude.


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