Dave wrote in a comment back here:
I feel like I can slip in the door and really contribute important ideas that, e.g., you (and your friends and our mutual friends, etc.) have internalized but haven't made their way into broader understanding yet. That is, your articulation of the hallway/school split, and its significance, hasn't quite exploded in actual schools, or academic theory about actual schools.
Well, what I was trying to do in my attack on the hallway-classroom split (originally back in '90-'91 in WMS,* then in that '01 essay for the Xgau festschrift) was to make sense of the rock-critic psyche and the behavior of a lot of contributers to my fanzine ("why doesn't Frank Kogan shut up and play his guitar?" and "I think visceral response is the most important" were two comments that I especially treasure). So to a big extent my subject was writing. Also, I was trying to come up with a better - more relevant - dichotomy to target than the ones that Christgau had chosen: his tendency would be to draw the line between intellectualizing versus partying or significance versus pleasure or some such, and then question those dichotomies without altogether abandoning them. (E.g., he thought that in P&J voters' were voting for significance when voting for albums but for pleasure when voting for singles, and then he'd say but we have to do right by the significance of singles etc.) I was talking about the psyche but I wanted to speak in social terms, about behavioral conventions and where and how they arose. The social spaces became my metaphorical categorization for a tension that I think underlies a lot of clichés (thinking versus feeling, intellectualizing versus living) and a lot of acting out.
But I wasn't in particular thinking about "What is going on in schools, and how they can be made better." The progressive education movement of the first half of the last century embraced John Dewey's attacks on the theory-practice split and on what he derided as the spectator theory of knowledge, but he never had much of an explanation for the hold that such a split continued to have on us a hundred years ago or now. His dime-store psychologizing laid the blame on the ancients' having little technological control over a dangerous and unpredictable physical world; my dime-store psychologizing puts the focus on fear of personal and social conflict, and I think I've got a better dime store. Such conflicts really can rip up a classroom and paralyze teaching, and people do need a rational response to that threat.
( Meltzer and Dewey choking on their contradictionsCollapse )