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Examsmanship & the Liberal Arts - William Perry



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Posts: 24
Author: Emily Flowers
   
Apr 14, 2007, 09:14am   #1
Has anyone read Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts by William Perry?

If so, could you help me to understand the differences between 'to cow' and 'to bull' and what the qualities are of both, if any. I know what the story defines them as but I'm having a hard time understanding it and/or comprehending them. :-)

This is what I'm getting from it:
Students who cow, believe blindly in the facts that they are told without any knowledge or conclusion drawn from that fact. Therefore, one would be robbing them self of his education and soul. Students who bull, are only discussing the limitations and frames of reference which would affect the conclusions or generalizations, but do not supply any proof of such conclusions.

Can you please expand from this?

Thanks!!



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Author: Sarah, EssayForum.com
   
Apr 15, 2007, 02:43am   #2
Greetings!

I had not read this before, so I had a look. What an enjoyably sardonic commentary on university education!

You are on the right track with your understanding of what Perry describes as "cowing" and "bulling"--but I think it is even worse than you have understood it to be--which is bad enough. :-)) Students who are only capable of cowing are unable to look beneath the bare facts in order to understand why something has taken place; not only do they lack imagination, they lack the ability to truly think. It puts me in mind of that famous quote about those who do not learn from history being doomed to repeat it. Such a person might be able to tell you the place and date of every battle in WWII...but nothing about the underlying causes of the war.

Someone well-versed in bull, on the other hand, could probably go on for pages about the economic, social, and political stressors that came into a perfect juxtaposition for the creation of a world war--without the slightest idea when it started. It's not merely a matter of not supplying any proof--they don't know the proof; they "bull" their way through the exam.

Perry has more concern about the "cow" student than the "bull"; why would this be? Essentially, it's because the "buller" can learn facts; the "cower" probably can't learn to think deeply.

I hope this helps!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com


twinsxtwoThreads: 5
Posts: 24
Author: Emily Flowers
   
Apr 15, 2007, 09:44am   #3
This definitely helps, thank you!! I tend to make things more complicated than they really are, which is the case with this story.

This is what I have so far... (I added some of your verbage where I thought it would fit so I could go back an change it up some to my own words.)

// draft deleted by moderator //

Lastly, I'm not sure how I should end my paper. Possibly find a quote to end with?

Thank you!!


EF_Team2Threads: 1
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Author: Sarah, EssayForum.com
   
Apr 15, 2007, 03:24pm   #4
Greetings!

Your essay is coming along nicely! To answer your question, yes, the quote about a liberal education is a good one; it might fit in the discussion about cows, to show what it is that a cow seems incapable of doing. One thing I noticed, though, is that your essay is rather quote-heavy. Your instructor might prefer to see a bit more of your own thoughts; they can be fussy about not wanting a lot of space taken up by quotations which fill up the word limit without providing new insight. Of course, once you fill in the parts you indicated it will have more of your words, but just as a general guideline, one sentence per quote (two if they're short) is usually plenty. For example, you could remove this sentence: "It is not in accord either, as far as I can see, with the stated values of a liberal education." You can also use ellipses (...) to take out parts of sentences, keeping the meaning.

Remember when you have quotation marks inside a quotation to use single quotes:
"If a liberal education should teach students 'how to think,' not only in their own fields..."

Just a couple of other editing suggestions:
"the age-old learning styles of curriculum based instruction that is used throughout America's school systems. - To make your subject and verb both singular, say "style."

"one would be robbing them self of his education and soul." - Never say "them self"; to make your subject and verb agree, you can say "one would be robbing himself" or "they [or people] would be robbing themselves."

"Someone well-versed in "bull" could probably go on for pages about any material that came without the slightest idea or proof why." - I'm not sure I agree with this. Bulls tend to understand the "why"; it's the "what" they are shaky about, because they don't bother memorizing facts.

You're welcome to use any of my verbiage that you like. :-))

Good work!

Sarah, EssayForum.com


twinsxtwoThreads: 5
Posts: 24
Author: Emily Flowers
   
Apr 16, 2007, 03:41pm   #5
Thank you for your additional suggestions & recommendations!

I certainly agree with you about being 'quote-heavy'. I was just trying to add length to the paper. :-) Honestly I have no interest in this story so I'm having a terrible time with it!!

Here were the instructions we were given:

In his essay Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts, William G. Perry Jr. states, "The student who merely cows robs himself, without knowing it, of his education and his soul. The student who only bulls robs himself, as he knows full well, of the joys of inductive discovery - that is, of engagement." Do you agree or disagree with Perry? Address Perry's statement in a two to three page essay. Explain what Perry means by this statement. Use direct quotes from his essay to support your position. This is where I got the idea to use MORE quotes! =)

Do you have any suggestions on which quotes should come out or where to use ellipses? I'm not sure what should be removed, except your suggestion above (It is not in accord...) so that I won't be taking any 'good' information away.

I don't think I was reading what I was typing about the 'bull' sentence! How is this:

Someone well-versed in "bull" could probably go on for pages about any material without the slightest bit of proof.


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Author: Sarah, EssayForum.com
   
Apr 17, 2007, 01:14am   #6
Greetings!

I think you could probably take out this part of this quote without losing anything: "The implicit refusal to consider the relativity of both ends and means leaves the operator in an unconsidered proprietary absolutism. History bears witness that in the pinches this moral superiority has no recourse to negotiation, only to force."

Your sentence about the person well-versed in "bull" still misses the mark a bit for me. Remember that, by Perry's own words, a bull type has very little "familiarity with content"; in other words, he really has no idea what he's talking about, but he talks about it very well! He not only does not have proof, he doesn't know what facts it is he would need to prove if he DID have proof! :-)) It's all smoke and mirrors. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain--the great and powerful Oz has spoken!" It's like the "Wizard" sending Dorothy and company on a quest to bring back the wicked witch's broomstick--it occupied them for a while, and they were certainly impressed and enthralled by the amazing "Wizard"--but the broomstick was just a ruse; he didn't need it. And he was, after all, just a little guy behind a curtain, pulling some levers. The trick for the bull artist is to never let anyone see behind the curtain.

It's interesting to note that, in the description of the bull student, Perry says that type "knows full well" what he is missing; there's an implication there that the cow-type is clueless about what he's missing; he regurgitates facts, not realizing their underlying importance.

Since your instructions specifically say to use quotes from the essay, by all means use that to your advantage! But I still think that two sentences per quotation is usually plenty; otherwise, by the time your reader gets to the end of the quoted material, s/he has forgotten what your point was in quoting it! :-) Just pick the parts of the quoted material that you think best illustrate what you're trying to say.

I hope this helps!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com


twinsxtwoThreads: 5
Posts: 24
Author: Emily Flowers
   
Apr 17, 2007, 07:55pm   #7
Alright... I'm trying to finish up this paper. =) Does it look any better than it did in the beginning?

In his essay, Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts, William G. Perry Jr. categorizes, questions, and attacks the academic arrogance that surrounds the age-old learning style of curriculum based instruction that is used throughout America's school systems. Although Perry's research was conducted primarily with students who attended Harvard University, his essay poignantly groups all students who have been educated in our nation's schools into two categories - "Cow and Bull."

Perry defines "Cow" as: To list data (or perform operations) without awareness of, or comment upon, the contexts, frames of reference, or points of observation which determine the origin, nature, and meaning of the data (or procedures). To write on the assumption that "a fact is a fact." To present evidence of hard work as a substitute for understanding, without any intent to deceive."

The qualities of the "Cow"... Are there actually any 'quailities' of cow?

Perry defines "Bull" as: To discourse upon the contexts, frames of reference and points of observation which would determine the origin, nature, and meaning of data if one had any. To present evidence of an understanding of form in the hope that the reader may be deceived into supposing a familiarity with content."

The qualities of the "Bull"... Are there actually any 'qualities' of bull?

Throughout his essay, Perry continually explores the pros and cons of each style of learning. Perry states, "The student who merely cows robs himself, without knowing it, of his education and his soul. The student who only bulls robs himself, as he knows full well, of the joys of inductive discover - that is, of engagement." Students who "cow," believe blindly in the facts that they are told without any knowledge or conclusion drawn from that fact. They are unable to look beneath the bare facts in order to understand why something has taken place. Not only do they lack imagination, they lack the ability to truly think. Therefore, one would be robbing himself of his education and soul. Students who "bull," are only discussing the limitations and frames of reference which would affect the conclusions or generalizations, but do not supply any proof of such conclusions. Someone well-versed in "bull" ultimately has no idea what he's talking about it. Is this more to the point?

"If a liberal education should teach students 'how to think,' not only in their own fields but in fields outside their own that is, to understand 'how the other fellow orders knowledge,' then bulling, even in its purest form, expresses an important part of what a pluralist university holds dear, surely a more important part than the collecting of 'facts that are facts' which schoolboys learn to do." In the real world, I do not feel that you can get by with "cowing" or "bulling" individually. It is easy to see why neither "cow" nor "bull" by itself constitutes knowledge. It seems that Perry has more concern about the "cow" student than the "bull" because the "buller" can learn facts, but the "cower" probably can't learn to think deeply. "Cowing" can be more dangerous and harmful than "bull," because it encourages the use of memorization of facts instead of promoting an actual understanding of the subject at hand. "We too often think of the "bullster" as cynical. He can be, and not always in a light-hearted way. We have failed to observe that there can lie behind cow the potential of a deeper and more dangerous despair. The moralism of sheer work and obedience can be an ethic that, unwilling to face a despair of its ends, glorifies its means."


I wasn't sure where you thought this quote should go: (Maybe it doesn't even need to be added.)

"A liberal education is founded in an awareness of frame of reference even in the most immediate and empirical examination of data. Its acquirement involves relinquishing hope of absolutes and of the protection they afford against doubt and the glib-tongued competitor. It demands an ever widening sophistication about systems of thought and observation. It leads, not away from him, but through the arts of gamesmanship to a new trust."


EF_Team2Threads: 1
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Author: Sarah, EssayForum.com
   
Apr 18, 2007, 12:48am   #8
Greetings!

To address your last question first, I'm not sure you need that quote about "a liberal education." It's a more general observation, rather than being right on point about cows and bulls.

You wrote: Someone well-versed in "bull" ultimately has no idea what he's talking about it. - This is essentially what I said, but perhaps I should have added, "or at least, he has no idea of the facts underlying what he's talking about." The "bull" student may have a grasp of cause-and-effect which the "cow" misses entirely, like the student in the essay who was caught taking an exam for a class he wasn't enrolled in.

This describes pretty well the qualities of a "cow": Students who "cow," believe blindly in the facts that they are told without any knowledge or conclusion drawn from that fact. They are unable to look beneath the bare facts in order to understand why something has taken place. Not only do they lack imagination, they lack the ability to truly think.

The qualities of a bull would include being able to discourse endlessly on virtually any topic without presenting any facts in support of his assertions. He is a sleight-of-hand magician who is all about flourish over substance.

Good work!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com




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