Reading and Writing Without Authority Response

I found this article to be very interesting, and I’m glad it was presented in a way where a comparison between two people who hold two different levels of authority when it comes to writing academic reports, are compared similar to a science experiment. I have not learned much about paternalism, so I found that interesting, but was surprised when the article changed topic and started talking about how this college freshman girl will tackle the same paper differently than someone getting their doctorate in philosophy. Essentially the analysis concluded that Roger (doctorate in philosophy) has learned throughout his studies to treat written works as claims made by each author, and is able to analyze and criticize the works while coming up with his own interpretation. He feels comfortable in his own self to do that and assumes he himself has a voice of authority in his own paper. Where Janet, being a college freshman, did not feel she had a voice of authority, also did not feel she could criticize the authors at all given her current amount of knowledge on the topic, which lead her to a difficult predicament when the authors offered opposing points of views on certain issues. She has essentially been taught to consider each work as ‘truth’ and should not question its validity. Which affected her paper and the voice of authority she felt she did not have.

Finally, the analysis concluded that students are not taught to come up with their own conclusions or question the validity of what they learn (in K through 12)  and essentially learn to ‘transfer knowledge,’ but not interpret it. I have been thinking about this since my high school graduation and think it is possibly the biggest flaw in the education system. I truly feel that I, was for the most part, only taught to ‘transfer knowledge,’ and rarely to interpret it. This lack of critical thinking is completely missing in most of our society from what I have seen, and I attribute most of that to how we are taught in K through 12 grades. It encourages people not to question or think critically, which is scary because we end up creating a ton of like minded thinkers, who can be influenced easily. I also think we are taught to be complacent, because questioning behavior is considered ‘bad,’ and therefore we have a lot of people in society who are afraid of confrontation and of thinking for themselves. Very interesting article.


One thought to “Reading and Writing Without Authority Response”

  1. I almost feel sorry for Janet. In my own response to this reading, I also touched upon how the difference in Janet and Roger’s approaches/behaviors stuck out to me. The fact that Janet feels she has no voice of authority limits her as a reader, writer, and thinker. In what ways can we teach people with less experience, and people of a younger age, how to interpret texts in the same way older, wiser and more experienced people do? I feel as though school and classroom settings should be a place where students allow themselves to question facts/truths they see on the page or on the chalkboard in front of them. Challenging ideas and concepts, even if they are factual, in my opinion, is all part of the learning process. Is being able to challenge what we read and learn a privilege? Is this privilege acquired through age in particular, or are there other ways to gain it? This article brings up a lot of interesting questions and discussion points that your response speaks to, and that I had not thought of when writing my own response.

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