From the editor

The Aims of what now?

Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93

If youth is wasted on the young, then surely the Aims of Education address is wasted on incoming College students. I must have attended. But I have no memory of the event at all.

In a 1997 collection of 12 of the addresses, Dean John W. Boyer, AM’69, PhD’75, explains the tradition. Each year, beginning in 1962, a distinguished senior scholar is given the lecture title and no further strictures. The result: “Chicago-like academic laissez-faire and sheer faculty ingenuity,” with plenty of contradictions year to year. In 1974 Wayne Booth, AM’47, PhD’50, advised students to be critical, even skeptical. Seven years later Leon Kass, SB’58, MD’62, told his group, “Strive not to see through, but to see things as they are.”

Speakers occasionally take aim at other thinkers and educators—not usually mentioned by name. I doubt I would have caught the references. In 1963 Karl Weintraub, AB’49, AM’52, PhD’57, eviscerates great books evangelist Mortimer Adler. In 1993 Hanna Gray has some choice words for Allan Bloom, PhB’49, AM’53, PhD’55. In 1994 Janel Mueller takes on the “sweepingly masculinist atmosphere” of the Hutchins College.

I’m sure there are subtleties I’m still missing. But now I’m able to follow, perhaps even question their arguments. It made me think of that aphorism about teaching, seen most frequently on the bumpers of educators’ cars: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”


Bird of passage

I’ve been lurking silently on Twitter for six years, mostly out of fear. No one wants to be the next Justine Sacco, who “got on a plane employed and got off unemployed and a global pariah,” as John Scalzi, AB’91, put it.

But I realized something recently. Unlike other forms of social media, Twitter seems to be where people go to discuss ideas. You don’t have to be anyone’s friend. You just follow along with the discussion.  

It’s like the digital equivalent of a public square. Lots of people are speaking at once; anyone could be listening. And occasionally a transgressor is publicly flogged. It’s dangerous, but also exciting.

So I’ve started tweeting @carriegolus. Join me if you want.


(Photo courtesy University of Chicago News Office)