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."