Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts

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Language Critique Assignment “Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts”

Education is not simply learning things; it is learning to learn things. In his classic essay “Examsmanship and the Liberal Arts” William G. Perry Jr. of Harvard University in 1963, using a mix of anecdote and analysis, humor and seriousness, considers the different kinds of answers students tend to give on exams and how they reflect on different kinds and ways of thinking. Perry Jr. categorizes, questions, and attacks the academic arrogance that surrounds the age-old learning style of curriculum based instruction that is used throughout school systems. He uses key terms such as bull and cow. Besides, he uses emotive language that makes the essay rich of knowledge.

He discusses the problem of the theory of knowledge in terms of grading "bull" and what he names "cow." The incident that impelled him to write is interesting.
Briefly, one Mr. Metzger (a pseudonym for a Harvard student, class of '47) rocketed to celebrity/notoriety after impulsively and for no apparent reason taking an exam under the name Smith in a social science course for which he was not registered and which he had never attended. Cheerfully, I gather, he wrote an essay discussing a book he had never read.
The scandal resulted when, because a real Smith was absent, Metzger's essay was graded and returned-with an A - . It is relevant to the resultant controversy that a conscientious friend of Metzger who had taken the course received a C+.

Perry rose to the defense of the hapless section leader responsible by examining what he saw as the fundamental purpose of the university: that it "should teach students how to think; not only in their own fields but in fields outside their own.... Here then, good bull [such as Metzger had written] appears not as ignorance at all but as an aspect of knowledge." Perry intentionally creates…...

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