Read twenty or so articles on a certain subject, pick out bits and pieces, and then glue them together. This is how we are expected to write mini-papers at teachers’ college. This past semester is the first time I have done this, and also the first time I fully understood what Robert Pirsig meant in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:
Schools teach you to imitate. If you don’t imitate as the teacher wants, you get a bad grade. Here in college, it was more sophisticated, of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in a way to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A’s. Originality on the other hand, could get you anything – from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.
Anyone still wonder why inspiring teachers are hard to come by?