Returning to my listservs I left over a year ago, I found the number of posts to be drastically reduced; on one list only one post! Wondering what happened, I asked someone who has been on both and she said on one people have migrated to specialty sites, esp on Facebook. However, I found the original moretprs listserv and it turns out to have some activity on it. Good.
That got me to thinking about media overall and how we have gone from three major networks and PBS giving news and comments to 800 channels, networks, etc, each promising to give us only what we want to hear. I recalled a time when an argument on one of the foreign language teaching listservs broke out over whether Ahmadinejad should speak at Columbia U. Not everyone wanted to read the exchanges and they didn’t have to. But my question is, if teachers are interested only in what to do for Monday morning class, how are they going to cover the history, culture, and general conditions of the countries where their language is spoken? Or do they not think fl teachers are possibly the only teachers in the school who can address those issues without worksheets and tests to kill the interest? It is a great platform from which to launch students into considerations of issues like immigration, poverty, government, cycles of history, stereotypes, and all the incidentals of informed civic discourse.
I’ve been attending some lectures by prominent personages at the university, people like Jonah Goldberg, Mark Lilla, Judge Mukasey, and others, across the political spectrum. All agree that the decline of civic discourse, along with civil discourse, is a killer for democracy. It dies. I may be making too much of this regarding the listservs, but I hope we don’t get too specialized. One good thing, I found a specialized list 🙂 for tprs French.
The upshot of this is that this time around, as opposed to the last 20 years, is too keep the polemics here, on Pat’s Polemics.