“As readers, we remain in the nursery stage so long as we cannot distinguish between taste and judgment, so long, that is, as the only possible verdicts we can pass on a book are two: this I like; this I don’t like.

For an adult reader, the possible verdicts are five:

  1. I can see this is good and I like it;
  2. I can see this is good but I don’t like it;
  3. I can see this is good and, though at present I don’t like it, I believe that with perseverance I shall come to like it;
  4. I can see that this is trash but I like it;
  5. I can see that this is trash and I don’t like it.”

― W.H. Auden, A Certain World: A Commonplace Book

 

Not only are these words useful in teaching English, music, art, or film; they are useful in pondering our reactions to education reform arguments, with slight edits:

For a thoughtful educator, the possible verdicts when considering reform-related arguments are five:

  1. I can see this is well-reasoned and I like its answers;
  2. I can see this is well-reasoned but I don’t like its answers;
  3. I can see this is well-reasoned and, though at present I don’t like it (or fully understand it), I believe that with perseverance I might come to understand its virtues;
  4. I haven’t determined whether this is well-reasoned, but I like its answers;
  5. I haven’t determined whether this is well-reasoned, and I don’t like its answers.

 

If more people pondered the difference between #1 and #4 and #2 and #5 we would be better off in this field. [Corrected].

 

PS: Yes, I know I altered the last 2 from the original (I said “slightly edited”). There was apparently only opaque method to my madness. But I like it the way it is. Perhaps you’ll ponder why?

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