Re: SV: [mythsoc] Fwd: Watership Down
- Hm, this is getting to be fun. Can someone please repost the question, or
send it to me privately?
To the person who first got the message from Tiffany, do you know this
person? I mean, like Wendell said, there is a certain level of polite intro
that should be involved here. Sometimes when we are zipping emails around to
people we already kn ow, we're less formal than otherwise.
Otherwise, I'm interested in what Steve said also. I initially dismissed the
whole thing, but now I'm curious. And I've read Watership Down a few times
(not recently, but), as well as the sequel (don't rush to read that one,
IMHO). I'd be interested to see what the student has to say initially.
Maybe a little dialogue would be fun.
sheesh I shouldn't delete my mail so fast. But it piles up so!
- Besides not saying "This is my homework, and I would like some
suggestions as to where to get information," T-----y also was asking for
a flat answer to a very complex, multi-faceted question.
I like answering questions, and long ago volunteered to deal with any
bibliographical questions coming in to the Mythopoeic Society that were
too easy to have to pass on to Wayne Hammond. (My favorite was from
someone who'd come across, in a rare-book catalog, an item by Tolkien
called "The Devil's Coach-Horses" and wondered what it might be. Answer:
an offprint of a scholarly article.)
But I've been seriously burned once or twice by people who weren't really
interested and didn't want to know, they were just collecting answers to
their homework. So now if the question isn't obviously generated by
genuine curiosity, as the Tolkien question above was, I double-check.
But in this case it was easy to figure out what was going on, as the
entire second paragraph of T-----y's query was written in high-school
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- I'm finally back at my computer and have waded through all the WT discussion.
As the person who forward poor T's message on, I might as well give an
apologia for my actions.
First, I don't know who T is. The email came to an alias I use to screen
emails. That means she found a reference on one of my Web pages to having
re-read WT last year.
As to how I think T should be responded to, it's a difficult situation. I
sympathize with both sides of this argument. On the one hand, like Wendell,
I'd like to say 'do your own homework.' On the other hand, I have dealt with
many high school students as a tutor, and I have encountered way to many that,
when approached with a question like this, have no idea how to answer it; that
is, they have not had the critical faculties needed for such analysis
developed in their educational career -- they can get really good scores on
Doom and Quake, but can't answer questions about a text they've read. (I think
I'm starting to rant, so I'll leave it there.)
In forwarding it, I was hoping someone on the list might have some insightful
way to help T answer the question herself; that is, teach her how to fish
instead of giving her the fish, to paraphrase an old proverb.
Matthew Winslow mwinslow@... http://x-real.firinn.org/
"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's
Currently reading: Legend: The Genesis of Civilisation by David Rohl
- Matthew: I don't at all blame you for passing T-----y's message on: even
realizing waht she was up to, your standards need not be as stringent as
Wendell's and mine and others', and that's OK.
The problem with your commendably generous approach of "teaching her how
to fish" is that this kind of fishing -- i.e. approaching a text
critically and writing about it -- can't be even begun to be taught over
a single e-mail. Either the student picks it up in the course of
classwork and homework, or not at all. And I cannot escape feeling that
T's problem is not so much that she doesn't know how to do it, but that
she realizes it's hard, and prefers to troll the web looking for anybody
who confesses to having read WD and see if she can nudge a paper out of
them instead. Misplaced energy, and a pretty sad thing.
I'd forgotten that my announcement that I sell a Le Guin bibliography
(which has been on some other websites before I put it on my own) garners
me occasional questions. Straightforward bibliographical ones, and
general recommendations ("I liked LHD; what book should I read next?") I
always answer; but most of them are from people looking for secondary
sources on Le Guin, to which I have a stock response; or who actually
want me to provide the key to understanding "The Ones Who Walk Away from
Omelas", which, brother, you either understand or you don't. To these I
provide either a short, elementary answer or, if they're really obviously
trolling for free term papers like T-----y, I don't reply at all.
If you promise that it won't get back to her, I actually feel like saying
a little about society in WD. What struck me most about the book was the
way the good guys interacted: Hazel leads in a fumbling, indirect, but
effective way, and every principal character has his specialty: together
they form a model of a good organization. In fact, as Adams reveals in
his memoirs, it's largely based on the paratroop unit he belonged to in WW2.
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