Saturday, February 9, 2013

Weekly Response - "Life in the Iron Mills" & "On the Internet"


Taylor Hochuli said...

It is interesting to look at the discussion the Hubert Dreyfus brings up in his book "On the Internet" about education. Without the “risks” involved with a lecture, distance learning is only a cheap substitute for the actual lesson. The teacher risks not knowing something on the topic and the student is required to understand the material when called upon. I am experiencing something like this since I am trying to learn programming languages on the internet for a research project. I understand from Dreyfus that such methods can only get me to a proficient level and I’ll have to find another way to become an expert at it if needed. However, this brings up the question of how self-taught masters come about? If education is heavily influenced by being present at lectures, then those who are self-taught could barely reach expertise in their field. Mastery could not be found in books rather than college courses where there is the teacher-student risk factor involved. In both arts and sciences, masters appear out of thin air since they are self-taught. Notable examples include Thomas Alva Edison who by many of his teachers was too stupid for school, John Lennon who dropped out of college and became a music legend, and Bill Gates who also dropped out of college to become a billionaire. Could the simple repetition and devotion to a subject or art also lead to becoming a master? Or did most of the people who were “self-taught” actually receive lecturing that they disregard since their ego has inflated due to their success. This poses complications involving the point about education brought up by Dreyfus.

This also crosses over into "Life in the Iron Mills" in terms of the downfall of Hugh Wolfe. He is fine with his status in life until the owner and his friends tell Hugh that he could be something more. Hugh never received a formal education about sculpting. He had no time or money for courses on art of crafting korl. He learned by repetition and devotion to this craft and became a master at it. Could Hugh be one of the “self-taught” masters who are not explained by Dreyfus?

Karen Knutson said...

Well, On the Internet read like a textbook, but I don't like the Nihilism on the internet section. The ethicalllness of the internet really depends on what section/part of the internet that you are on. For instance, a Catholic fourm will differ greatly from a fourm that is devoted to atheism. I just feel like you can't generalize the internet like te author sometimes does in this text due to the diversity of websites.

Also, second life was a fad, and I checked. It only gets around a million log-in a month. That is considerably low, the most played mmorpg games have 10-50 million users. Also most of those rpgs use a coin system top buy advancements with real money. I also find the mythology arguemt to be weak because no one believes in goblins, or other mythical beings but it adds depth into the games and I would also say that mythology is in a lot of common fiction/scifi books, and no one believes that it is true.

Brian DeWillie said...

In Life in the Iron Mills I was struck by how many things were described as dull. The "dull and tawny-colored" river, "masses of men, with dull, besotted faces," and the "dull plash of the rain in the far distance" all kind of set this scene to be very lifeless and mechanical. However, Deborah, was able to see though some of this dullness particularly when it came to other people. When talking about Hugh, it mentions "She knew, that, down under all the vileness and coarseness of his life, there was a groping passion for whatever was beautiful and pure" and "through this dull consciousness" of Deborah's, she remembers, "the recollection of the dark blue eyes and lithe figure of the little Irish girl she had left in the cellar."

I just thought it was interesting how the people, in contrast with the machinery and especially nature, brought about the images of something beautiful. This is kind of the opposite of Frankenstein where Victor goes out into nature to experience all the beauty.

Janine Talis said...

Right from the start in the introduction, I felt "On the Internet" to be full of generalizations. People need face-to-face interactions, people on the internet lose connections to their bodies and the people around them, students need to have in person learning. "...can we get along without our bodies?" (6). Dreyfus is denying, or neglecting, the myriad of situations that go against this. For instance, a gay man in a small, homophobic town might find solace and friendship through an online community, to help him face the real-world isolation. Some students learn different and do absorb more by learning online instead. I for one learn best by listening and taking notes, as opposed to watching demonstrations. Not to mention I have always found it easier to email my questions to my teachers as opposed to asking in from of 300 fellow students. I do not deny that physical connections are important in the creation and maintenance of relationships, but the is not solely how relationships are born. Every day online people are making connections because they have found a person who get something about them that maybe those around them do not seem to get. If you have ever even typed a health complaint into google once, you would see that many people use the wealth of knowledge of the internet not just to disconnect from their bodies, but to better understand them. Dreyfus seems to only focus on how the internet separates us, instead of how it unites us.

In "Life in the Iron Mills" there is just one questions that popped into my head. When your life is nothing put pain and hardship. is it better to be a machine?

Ben Nemeth said...

I find Dreyfus's argument presented in "On the Internet" that distance learning takes away from true mastery of a subject strangely compelling. As part of my job I do technician work for the distance learning classrooms in Benedum Hall for the nuclear engineering graduate students. I would hardly call the learning they do in those classes limited in any way, but I will say that I think the students that actually do come in to class benefit more than those that watch the recordings later. It's unfair to say that this style of class doesn't aid in learning however. These classrooms were designed for students who were too far away or busy with work to attend a regularly scheduled class. What Dreyfus should be pushing for is a compromise that uses technology and the Internet as a teaching aid rather than the physical teacher's replacement.

As for "Life in the Iron Mills", I noticed that Wolfe's character was described as 'dogged' frequently throughout the story. His name paired with these descriptions paints a picture of him as a dog, which is a strong metaphor for how he's viewed by the people in the classes above him. What bothered me the most was how Mitchell's description and behavior painted him as a high society achiever and all around great guy when really his views on social classes and the poor were really very ignorant.