Thursday, August 21, 2008

Free iPods at University

The New York times published this piece yesterday: "Welcome, Freshman. Haven an iPod."

Apparently, student cell phones and laptop computers aren't enough of a distraction. They need iPods, too, to satiate the endless consumer appetite to be entertained. I still believe music is the drug of choice in the West. And in a place, like University, which traditionally is for soul-building and a retreat from life's distractions to gain knowledge and wisdom, this article is saddening. More souls in need of Soulation....

The article is worth your reflection. For instance, see this paragraph:

“When it gets a little boring, I might pull it out,” acknowledged Naomi J. Pugh, a first-year student at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., referring to her new iPod Touch, which can connect to the Internet over a campus wireless network. She speculated that professors might try harder to make classes interesting if they were competing with the devices.
I've been informed that Naomi's comment was made in jest and removed from it's original context for the sake of the author's rhetorically driving the point (a common problem of dishonest journalism akin to the vice he denounces). That Naimi sounds like many typical freshman is unfortunate. Many students have developed the habit of believing that information must be entertainment. Yet so often knowledge will not come in entertaining ways. Making a class more 'interesting' should not be a requirement for students to learn what it means to lead (not consume) in the 21st century. It would serve us to cultivate learning, even from boring professors, because this is what a virtuous, flourishing, appropriately human person does. These are the the kinds of students who grow up to make a difference.

2 comments:

SuzeLea said...

Dale,

At face value, I agree that the quote by Naomi Pugh in this article might be disappointing. But in defense of my niece, please consider the source. We're talking about the New York Times, of all papers. Naomi's comment was quoted grossly out of context by Jonathan Glater, the writer. Naomi made many intelligent and positive remarks in the course of her interview by Mr. Glater. It was at the end of their brief encounter when she JOKINGLY added that she might pull out her I-pod if the class got boring. But anyone who knows her will know that she has more depth and integrity than that. Please let it be known that Mr. Glater was obviously against this I-pod program being sponsored at the college. It shouldn't surprise anyone that this NY Times writer chose the only comment in the interview that would support his opinion, which just so happened to be the only comment that was made in jest. Rather than question the student's integrity, let's start first with that of the author.

Thank you,
Susan Vaughan

Dale Fincher said...

Susan,

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Naomi's comments, even if said jokingly, is a representation of many youth/college opinions on the requirement for infotainment.

My post was not intended to be a slam on Naomi but, rather, a symbol for many of my student readers to step outside themselves and consider afresh what kind of world they live in and the kind of person they want to become.

It is good to know her context and glad she's one freshman who is intelligent and thoughtful about her future (and this ipod issue).

While I think the NYT is often a decent source, I do understand the common problem of journalists taking words out of context. Glater should not have done that. I'm sorry that has happened. I will edit this post so as not to reflect poorly on Naomi's character.