A question about a sentence from "Liberal Arts for the

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A question about a sentence from "Liberal Arts for the

Post by laiyuda » Sat Jul 08, 2006 1:39 am

Dear all,

I got a question about a sentence from "Liberal Arts for the 21st Century":

Liberal arts is changing faster than ever, but not fast enough to accomodate the increasing pace of history. We cannot make ideas run the gauntlet of centuries before admitting them to academia.

What does the underlined sentence mean? I don't quite understand by "make ideas run the gauntlet of centuries before...."


Thank you very much.

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Post by sbourque » Sat Aug 05, 2006 1:04 am

To "run a gauntlet" is when someone runs quickly between 2 lines of people who beat him with sticks as he runs--in the figurative sense it means to undergo a strenuous and painful test. (The runner must make it all the way through without collapsing, otherwise I guess he is beaten to death.) So, your text means that good ideas should be adopted without delay, the implication being that academia is very very slow to adopt new ideas.

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Post by rusmeister » Sat Aug 05, 2006 3:09 pm

In Defense of the Gauntlet:

Actually, it says, 'ideas', not 'good ideas'. Taken as is it says we should be experimental - fine to a point, but unless we're building on what we have learned, we're re-inventing the wheel (at best).
Ideas SHOULD be made to run a gauntlet. The ones that have run the "gauntlet of history" work.
We know that we should teach grammar, and we know that we should teach usage, thanks to that "gauntlet".
Don't knock tradition altogether. In other words, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Having said that, go try the new idea once in a while! Make it run the gauntlet. But after you get egg on your face a few times, you'll appreciate the gauntlet better.

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