Cover image for Lying about the wolf : essays in culture and education
Lying about the wolf : essays in culture and education
Solway, David.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press, [1997]

Physical Description:
xiv, 313 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
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LB45 .S596 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Solway explains that the current generation of students, raised in a nonhistorical and iconic environment, do not live in time as an emergent, continuous medium in which the complexities of experience are parsed and organized. Their psychological world is largely devoid of syntax - of causal, differential, and temporal relations between events. The result is precisely what we see about us: a cultural world characterized by a vast subpopulation of young (and not so young) people for whom the past is an unsubstantiated rumour and the future an unacknowledged responsibility. Solway claims that contemporary educators have become cultural speculators who disregard a basic truth about how the mind develops: that it needs to be grounded in reality and time. In education, as in almost every other cultural institution, the sense of reality and the dynamic of time have "virtually" disappeared, leading to the deep disconnectedness we experience on every level of "human grammar," from the organization of the community to the organization of the sentence. Lying about the Wolf is not only an exploration of current pedagogical issues but also, and perhaps primarily, a cultural analysis for which the subject of education provides a focus. Solway argues that we cannot hope to solve the educational problem unless we are prepared to deal with the larger cultural predicament.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Solway examines the cultural origins of the current crisis in North American education. His essays draw on his experiences as a poet and professor of English literature, incorporating ideas and evidence drawn from an extensive, transdisciplinary array of sources. He argues against technical approaches to remedial writing instruction, media-oriented pedagogy, administrative instrumentalism, and teaching methods informed by psychological research. He attributes the profound learning difficulties of students of all ages to deficient home environments, inadequate parenting, and teachers who "teach down" to students. Solway notes that writing requires extensive reading, articulate speech, the ability to listen, memory, knowledge, and a sense of personal and communal history. Efforts to teach writing should therefore require students to read widely and think clearly. For Solway, "all education is higher education": educators must convey to students a profound sense of the importance of education and offer substantive, demanding coursework attentive to the larger context in which learning takes place. The essays, written in provocative, intellectually challenging style, will particularly interest college professors, curriculum theorists, and philosophers of education. J. A. Gamradt; University of New Mexico