Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why texts, not textbooks

From today's Science Times profile of evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins:

“I didn’t have a very starry school career,” he says. “I was medium to above average, nothing special.”

He lighted his own intellectual fire at a university peculiarly suited to his temperament. Oxford relies on the tutorial system, in which students burrow into original texts rather than textbooks.

“I loved it; I become easily temporarily obsessed,” Professor Dawkins says. “I did not end up as broadly educated as my Cambridge colleagues, but I graduated probably better equipped to write a book on my chosen subject.”

(From that experience he drew a dislike of the current establishment insistence — bordering on mania — for standardized tests and curriculums. He views this as antithetical to true learning.)

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