Polemics & Exchanges

On Education and Alienation

I would like to commend B.K. Eakman for her superb piece, “Bushwacking Johnny” (Vital Signs, September).  It is the first thing of hers I have read, and I am most impressed by the way she has captured the essence of the moral and spiritual crisis in education today.

I am a college professor, a baby boomer, and in an esoteric field (Chinese literature).  Yet I am also a warrior, like Mrs. Eakman, fighting when and where I can the trends self-designated as “postmodernism” in “higher” education.

Bad as it is on this level, it is even worse when “educators” do what Mrs. Eakman describes with ten-year-olds.  (My granddaughter is ten; we are raising her as best we can.)

        —Jonathan Chaves
Washington, DC

I wish to draw Mrs. Eakman’s attention to one error in her otherwise excellent article.  Karl Marx’s theory of alienation has nothing to do with avoiding social ostracism and ridicule.  Marx’s theory is an economic one; he argues that the exploited factory worker undergoes dissociation from the product of his labor.  In the previous handicraft tradition, a worker created an entire object from start to finish and, therefore, had a personal investment in it as an expression...

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