A space to reflect on my readings and musings, scattered and rescattered


A Passive Academic

Today as I quietly and somewhat casually was reading Kozol at a café in my neighborhood, a friend joined me for a quick cup of coffee. My friend was agonizing over a psychology class she was to lead in a couple of hours and worrying, as she sipped her cup of joe, that she might not have mastered the theories as well as she should have. I empathized, affirmed, the usual stuff, told her it would be fine. And then she said, “You’re such a passive academic! Really, you love learning but you’re just sitting here quietly reading.” And then she comically mocked the casual sunny afternoon drawl with which I’d mused, “Oh, I’m just reading Kozol”. I had no pen in my hand, was not trying to master a theory. I was doing just what I had said, just reading Kozol, just reading in the same way I might read a novel, absorbing it, enjoying it (despite all the yucky realities his reflections and assessments always remind us of). In my friend’s animated way she said, “it’s like I try to learn this stuff by dousing myself in it with a big spray can. You, you just wade around.” And then I argued, perhaps to her maniacally, that I thought it was a far better, far more meaningful way to learn. Wading, I think, isn’t really passive at all.

Lalitha suggests that perhaps a good metaphor for reading is wine tasting. If you like her more sophisticated metaphor, the complexity of it, that’s fine, but I’d like to keep wading in a river where the water is cool, the current washes over my legs, and occasionally, some murky, slimy stuff I step languidly into makes me want to walk upstream a little faster where the water is cleaner.


Post a Comment

<< Home