A FREE AND ORDERED SPACE: The Real World of the University by A. Bartlett Giamatti

A FREE AND ORDERED SPACE: The Real World of the University

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Another collection of pallid pieties nearly indistinguishable from those Giamatti first offered in his 1981 The University and the Public Interest. Presented in a style that seems designed to convey cool reasonableness but which in fact is merely soporific, these transcriptions of speeches delivered to Yale students and various educational groups offer few ideas that will stimulate, much less offend, the average reader. As themes, the need for diversity, openness, and tolerance in the educational process, the dangers of Moral Majority demagoguery, and the growing ""corporatization"" of America's seats of learning--among other issues--would be predictable in the mouth of the chairman of some suburban school board; coming from the former president of Yale University, they are downright disappointing. When, for example, Giamatti states that "". . .the partnership of parents and neighbors, civic leaders and politicians, must. . .agree that the schools are the most important single asset the community holds in common,"" few will disagree. How Giamatti would suggest arriving at this Utopian state goes unanswered, however. Again, when he comes out against ""the pustular eruptions of sexism, racism, and of anti-Semitism,"" Giamatti is obviously on the side of the angels. His prescription of ""tough, reasoned debate"" as the antidote to such prejudices is, however, far too general to be of any great practical worth. Giamatti has missed a splendid opportunity here. Let's hope he does better in his new position as baseball commissioner.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1988
Publisher: Norton