The Art of Teaching Secondary English: Innovative and Creative Approaches

By David Stevens; Nicholas McGuinn | Go to book overview

5

'Taking the mind to other things'

Romanticism and the new technologies

A tool is a particular thing, but it is more than a particular thing, since it is a thing in which a connection, a sequential bond of nature is embodied. It possesses an objective relation as its own defining property. Its perception as well as its actual use takes the mind to other things.

(Dewey 1981)

Teachers committed to a Romantic vision of English teaching could be forgiven for viewing the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution with misgivings. So many of the cultural and pedagogical practices which sustain it seem incompatible with that sense of Romantic vision with which Stevens concludes the book in Chapter 6. One could argue, for example, that ICT represents a particularly extreme and potent manifestation of the 'technological mindset' which has so heavily influenced the epistemologies of Western thought for the past two centuries (Bowers 1982:530); or that it is an insidiously powerful tool by means of which cultural, economic and political elites maintain their privileges (Ellul 1964; Feenberg 1991); or that its arrival marks the ultimate triumph of some kind of Bakhtinian nightmare in which one 'normative' language dominates the globe.

For Sally Tweddle, speculating almost a decade ago about the possible impact of ICT upon the English curriculum, these concerns seemed real enough:

[Information Technology] 1 carries a threat of producing a new generation of haves and have-nots in a society which increasingly values knowledge as the key to wealth and power; in a global economy which depends upon technological literacy; in a multimedia culture for which linear print literacies are inadequate.

(Tweddle 1995:4)

Reliable data about ICT use around the world are notoriously difficult to collect; but, given this proviso, some recent figures (Ash 2000) seem to

-95-

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The Art of Teaching Secondary English: Innovative and Creative Approaches
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Introduction vii
  • 1 - The Arts of English Teaching 1
  • 2 - Romantically Linked 29
  • 3 - Romantic Words and Worlds 51
  • 4 - The Challenge of 'Instrumental Rationality' 73
  • 5 - Taking the Mind to Other Things 95
  • 6 - Romantic Culture and the Intercultural Imperative 117
  • Notes 141
  • Bibliography 143
  • Index 151
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