"A Columbia- or University of Chicago-style core is not readily transplantable, at least outside of certain honors colleges. It is subject to continuing criticism from those who regard it as Eurocentric or as an 'amateurish bull session,' due to the fact that sections are led by non-specialists who do not richly contextualize the readings.
"In fact, the great books core prides itself on an approach that is pure Martin Luther: Reading texts without the scaffolding of earlier exegesis. Students are discouraged from reading secondary sources.
"I am not here to defend the core … but instead to use it as a way to emphasize another point. My take-away is simple: Many of the richest learning experiences, especially in the humanities, involve learning, but not structured teaching (as generally defined). Nor do these experiences depend on a teacher as authority figure or fount of knowledge.
"To teach is to impart knowledge and skills or to give instruction. To learn, however, is generally quite different. To be sure, it involves acquiring knowledge and skills—though this is rarely the product of oral transmission. It is to construct a framework for understanding and to acquire enduring mastery over a wide range of content, skills, and habits of mind. It involves synthesis, interpretation, judgment, and application. It is attained partly by listening, but also by practice, problem-solving, reflection, and active learning."
Books & Mortar: A Day in the Life of Judy Blume, Bookseller
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