Tuesday, July 22, 2008

John Senior would approve

At Berea College, (NY Times story) low-income students go to school for free, and the college is funded by a government endowment. (I'm not sure if John Senior would approve of the government endowment entirely funding the college, though he might, but the part I think he'd approve of is coming.) To make up a bit of extra money (though the endowment is pretty huge) and to lower the cost of living for each student, the college runs a farm and workshops for traditional crafts! These are some students who learn wonder at college! None of these students would fail to laugh at the Chaucer's Chanticleer just because they had never seen a rooster strut.

Now my question is, why is it only destitute students who have the privilege to go to this college? Don't students from higher-income families deserve the chance to attend a college where they can balance their intellectual endeavors with old-fashioned hard work at old-fashioned practical tasks, and graduate with the ability to denounce deconstruction with the best of them AND build beautiful furniture for their home, grow their own food, and forge ... oh my gosh, who cares if they're even forging anything practical! Look how gorgeous it is! I mean, I loved UD just about as much as it is possible to love a school (tangent: I had a dream last night about sitting at a cafe in Nafplion and discussing New Criticism with a total stranger, and then I started talking about a Freudian interpretation of Brideshead Revisited, and Sarah E. from the class above me, who was magically there, was horrified, and I said, "well, how else do you explain Anthony Blanche?" And when I woke up, I realized I wrote my entire thesis on Anthony Blanche and wasn't Freudian at all. So: proof that my subconscious was trying to tell me that I miss UD, but it was pointless, because my conscious mind already knew it) but I would have LOVED SO MUCH to have the chance to learn these crafts of our grandparents, and especially to have it integrated into the curriculum in such a way that I didn't have to choose between taking ceramics and EVER having time for homework.

Like, these kids work in the craft shops for work study. Work study! Making furniture! Wow!

So who wants to pressure a *real* (that is, tuition-charging, not that Berea is fake) college to open up a craftsmanship branch, and use it as work-study opportunities, the way this one does? Encourage all students to learn to farm and hand-craft? Or perhaps, the answer is to start one, a Berea for students who are above the arbitrary line of sufficient poverty, and therefore just as excluded as low-income students are from attending Harvard. And it seems to me that the Ozarks are the perfect place for such a college. Jimmy, Jonathan, Eric, Lacy, I'm talking to you.

Oh, and Lodz: the Foxfire Book? Totally changing my gestalt. Thank you for ever and ever, and when you visit me and I feed you hog's head stew that I've canned myself, you'll know it's entirely your fault.

1 comment:

Elle Marja said...

I am soooo glad you like the firefox book!