Imitation, Forgery, and Education #YCAS2015

Imitation, Forgery, and Education #YCAS2015 September 25, 2015

The discussion of forgery led to a discussion on the way to lunch about the role of imitation in ancient pedagogy. That led me to ponder whether we might not benefit from doing more of that in modern teaching. Many students struggle to express themselves well. Perhaps we should return to this older method of asking them to learn by imitating other authors, and doing so explicitly? In other domains, such as music, it is simply taken for granted that one begins imitating the style of others, on one's way to developing one's own style.

Perhaps it would be fun to get students to try to produce a convincing imitation of Bart Ehrman addressing the subject of forgery? Perhaps they could hone their composition skills as well as learning about ancient literature and modern scholarship about it?

Here is a photo from last night's reception, with Mark Goodacre, Bart Ehrman, and myself.

 

 

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  • The Eh’theist

    Sessions sound very interesting. Having Ehrman in the shadow of the photo will confirm how some imagine him. 🙂 All of the arts demonstrate the path to excellence via imitation (painters’ schools, sculpture, etc), and in public education, one generally starts out teaching the lesson plans of others or following the curriculum documents, which is quite similar, although one jumps to doing one’s own plans much faster than in the arts.

    If you are staying in Toronto tomorrow night and haven’t made plans, you might consider the Cider Festival-I attended in previous years and it makes for a yummy evening, as long as you food intake paces your liquid intake.

    Speaking of Ehrman, I’m dying to know why in his recent debate with Justin Bass he let Bass argue several times that the Synoptics were following a guessing-game model of presenting Jesus (ending with the “guess” that he is God) when they clearly state their theses about Jesus being the Christ at the start of each gospel.

    Bass offered it several times against Ehrman’s well-argued position, and I couldn’t understand why Ehrman didn’t shut him down the way he did on other points.

    Hope you are enjoying Toronto!

    • Thanks for the suggestion! I am leaving soon after the conference ends, and so won’t be able to benefit from it, but I do appreciate it nonetheless!

  • Three great scholars with spirit – or should I say spirits!

  • I like your suggestion of having students imitate Bart Ehrman’s approach. From your later post:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2015/09/bart-ehrmans-keynote-address-at-ycas2015.html

    It appears that Bart may have given your students the specific tools they need, with his suggested taxonomies – such as the three additional kinds of forgery he described in the keynote: embedded forgery, redactional forgery, and nonpseudepigraphic forgery.

  • arcseconds

    I heard an expert martial arts instructor saying he gave the task of imitating other people to his advanced students during their training, and they got a lot better when they started imitating him! He couldn’t understand why they stopped…

    While it’s an interesting idea, I do wonder how applicable it really is. It’s actually quite hard to write like someone else, and it might not be all that beneficial. It’s hard enough to write like oneself!

    In my youff, I always thought that essays ought to be these well-crafted literary works, so I always tried to glide seamlessly from one point to another and kind of build up to the conclusion almost like a surprise ending. After all, at the start of a novel you wouldn’t give away how the hero outwits the villain in the climax, would you?

    It took me a while to learn that there’s no real need for this artifice. One can be quite blunt: say what you’re going to say, say it, and say what you said is a good recipe. “In this essay I will prove X by demonstrating points 1, 2 and 3. Point 1:.. “.

    I like to think I wasn’t too bad at the literary subtlety I was attempting, but I think it added little to my essays, which if anything detracted from what I was trying to communicate. Having done a bit of marking the damn things, I’ve since come to the opinion that it’s better to strongly encourage the students not to make any attempt at literature. For most it is hard enough communicating simply and clearly, and treating it as a creative writing exercise frequently just adds bad literary composition on top of unclear ideas and opaque exposition.

    That’s not to say I don’t think elegant writing has its place, but one needs to be able to walk before one can run. It’s better to learn to pull off simple and clear, and if that ends up being unsophisticated, then so be it.