Friday, October 5, 2012
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
People most always enjoy hearing stories, true or not, but arguably the best stories are the ones that are true. Throughout the first four sections of Routes of Man by Ted Conover, readers can see that the author has led an interesting and inspired life by way of his travels and experiences on the various roads and paths other people of different cultures than his own take regularly as a way of life. Whether it was his journey to discover how mahogany logged in Peru made its way into Park Avenue apartments as furnishing or the harrowing adventure on the frozen river path known as chaddar located in the Himalayan Mountains, Conover thoroughly regales his readers with the retelling of his experiences through the narrations of his adventures, his descriptions of the harsh environments that were visited as well as of the people accustomed to living in such places, and his comparing and contrasting of the differences between the cultures that he finds on his excursions and of his own culture. On his expeditions, Conover points out the cultural differences between his own culture and those of the people he is visiting and how roads affect their daily lives. Conover implies that some roads can be dangerous to those who walk the roads; other roads are not the danger when taking them but are nonetheless dangerous because those who take the roads are the danger. To the author, roads have positive and negative prospects to them; in the case of the chaddar in the Himalayas, the local residents believe that a paved road would be good for them because it would expose them to the outside world, a reason that some Western thinkers (Conover references Helena Norberg-Hodge) believe would be not to build a paved road for the locals because it would destroy their cultural heritage. Since Conover remains to be consistent throughout the first half of Routes of Man, one can assume that Conover will continue to utilize the rhetorical devices of narration, description, and compare/contrast as readers retrace Conover’s routes on the world’s roads.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
In “Learning as Freedom”—an editorial published on September 5, 2012 in The New York Times—Michael Roth argues that rather than structuring education around specific vocations, “making the grade,” and turning people into “robots” designed to complete certain tasks, education should allow individuals to be free to grow and learn while gaining necessary skills and finding their purpose as well as significance in life and work. Roth points out that the modern day education system does not allow for individuals to grow individually as intellectuals, but instead indoctrinates scores of people with the same information that is considered by those who manage the educational system to be required knowledge. The schools of today do not teach valuable information in a way that the method of teaching that is in place can be considered to be providing an education; the schools of the modern-day education system are structured to “teach” large masses of students at a time to such a high degree that they cannot be considered “schools” so much as “informational factories” mass-producing informed people and not educated individuals. In “Learning as Freedom,” the author, Michael Roth, shows that he is a firm believer in the original concept behind receiving an education: to better one’s own life by acquiring a new set of practical and applicable skills, and by improving his or her own understanding of the world.