Fish in a Barrel

This past semester, the M.Ed. course I took was on the philosophy of education, which turns out to be fascinating. I remember really liking philosophy in university – I did two courses in my undergrad with a remarkable teacher; I enjoyed these courses so much that I considered doing a minor in Philosphy, only to find that I couldn’t stomach the professor of my third course.
The following is a paper I’ve submitted for the current course. The assignment was to critique an article, in this case, Stanley Fish’s ‘Always Academicize,’ originally published last fall in the New York Times.
In ‘Always Academicize: My Response to the Responses,’ Stanley Fish’s November 2006 response to critics of his earlier post regarding the role of teachers, Fish argues that “the redress of injustice and the inculcation of … values are worthy activities, but they are not academic activities, and they are not activities academics have the credentials to perform” (par. 1). As such, Fish believes that teachers should do “the job they are trained and paid to do,” exclusively (par. 1). The questions that arise, before one can accept Fish’s dictum, are threefold: what are academic activities, what credentials are in fact required to “redress” social issues, and what is the job that teachers are paid and trained to do? To agree with Fish, one must agree with his stated or implied answers to these questions; however, this agreement is not as straightforward as Fish would have us believe.

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