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· Pointed Takes on Style Delineated ·
April 18, 2006
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· Texas-Style Bovine Epistemology ·
Ironically, Texas teaching framed our trip from first to last. Initially passing through some dairyland enroute to SEA-TAC, we got word of Barbara Bush's plans to donate — through her son Neil's IgniteLearning company in Austin — COWs (Curricula on Wheels) to Houston's Independent School District. You may have seen the story. Meant partly for Katrina victims, the family largesse looks suspiciously like a clever tax gimmick — and it may just smack of Bushism, too (corporate cronyism).
We didn't reflect on it more till, visiting later in Texas's Bob Bullock State History Museum, we saw in Austin a COW being rolled in for public presentation. Well, you can imagine our surprise: that the thing (pictured at right) was being brazenly displayed in public suggested a better teaching tool I can show a bit more modestly in print — Bill Perry's famous 1963 essay, "Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts." I thought to define its two essentials.
Perry himself calls his piece a study in "Educational Epistemology," turning on the bovine concepts of "cow" and "bull." Here are Perry's definitions:
Today, reflecting on the clan's claims to leadership, I'm wondering if, in public as well as private, the Bushes have somehow got "cow" and "bull" together in a way better recognized, rather more neutrally, as "The Bum Steer."
In any event, to the Georges, Neil, Jeb, and, of course, Barbara, here's my slightly more literal, semi-pictorial version.
Such fun! Touché!
My interpretation of your ending graphic is that you're really saying "bullshit!"
Like your historic namesake, I sometimes confess to "excremental visions," Luther, but not here. Harry G. Frankfurt's "On Bullshit," though, could make for some additional "worthwhile reading."
A more recent diagnosis, misidentified here as Rummyache by Hendrik Hertzberg, comes from The New Yorker (5-1-06):
Indeed — and so it is.
A former Washington student, I am now a Texan Seminary Student. I have had the unique opportunity to see the COW in use at an Educational District Meeting — an interesting concept, but a useless peice of equipment that denies some of the most rudamentary needs of education. It gives the phrase "full of bull" a new, if not graspable, meaning!
I notice the frequency of the blogs to be declining. I hope this isn't a lasting pattern!
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