Friday, September 26, 2008

Cage on Education

Here are a few Cage quotes you might enjoy related to the theme of education. All are taken from Richard Kostelanetz's Conversing with Cage.

"The reason I dropped out of college was because I was absolutely horrified by being in a class which had, say, two hundred members, and an assignment being given to all two hundred people to read the same book. I thought that if everyone read the same book, it was a waste of people. It was sufficient for one person to read the book and then somehow through that person, if the book had anything in it, everyone could get it, by talking with the person who had read the book. But to look at those desks with everybody reading the same book, that struck me with horror, so I marched away and went into the stacks of the library. I read books as irrelevant to the subject as I could find; and when the questions were given for the examination, I got an A. I thought there was something wrong with that system, so I dropped out of college."

Cage as a Teacher

"And the first thing I announced was that everyone in the class would get an A because I am opposed to the grading in schools. Well, when this news got around the campus the size of the class increased to 120 people who all wanted to have A's. Gradually, it settled down to about 80 people who came to my class all the time. But even those who just came and registered got an A. My first talk to them explained my point of view. And that included the fact that we didn't know what we were studying. That this was a class in we didn't know what. And in order to make that clear that we would subject the entire library to chance operations, to the I Ching, and each person in the class would read, say, five books or parts of five books, if the books were too long, and the I Ching could tell them which part to read. And in that way we would all have, I thought and they agreed, something to give one another. Whereas if we did as other classes do and all read the same book and knew what we were doing , then we could only be in the position of competing with one another to see which one understood the most. Whereas in this other class we all became generous to one another, and the conversations were unpredictable."

Time Management

"This (having schedules) must be refused. Anything that represents a continuity from one thing to the next should be changed to something that represents flexibility from one day to the next. Anything resembling an interruption, a distraction, should be welcomed. Why? Because we will realize that by these interruptions and distractions and flexibilities we enrich the brushing of information against information... "

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