Article Summary

Written by Michiko Kakutani and published in March 2002, the article Critic’s Notebook: Debate? Dissent? Discussion? Oh, Don’t go There is an account of the participation of dwindled students in debates. Whether aesthetic or any other form of debate, their peculiar inclusions as part of the dining glamour no longer seems to get ardent consideration in the modern days, as it used to be in the past.

To present his claims successfully, Kakutani borrows Neil Howe and William Strauss’ observation in the book Millennials Rising, that less rebellion, self-centeredness and the deployment of more practical approach to issues amongst others characterize people born in the 1980s and later years.

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He gives incredible concerns to values, as a way of supporting the proposition that points the modern generation as more action-oriented rather than linguistic. A change of the characteristics of students has the capacity to transform the former noisy classrooms into grave silent ones, as observed in the modern days. As a repercussion, flourishing of debates cannot be conspicuous in such an environment.

Previous debates encompassed the unveiling and deployment of self-internal knowledge of which the modern generation largely remains silent to the level of reducing its plan of exposing it. Consequently, the modern debates seem less noisy and involving. In addition, submissiveness and compliant with rules and regulations emanating from the authorities: be it parental, administrative or professional, make debates more resilient since they provide no room for counter arguments to the dictation of commands.

The article articulates the inability of the modern day events that acquire international concerns, as a subtle contributor of the reticence students’ participation in debates. For instance, he points out events such as Afghanistan war or perhaps the September 11 US attacks that hardly give the same dissent that characterized issues surrounding other events that occurred in the years preceding 1980s such as the Vietnam War.

Among the modern students, the meaning and public appeals of debates have negatively transformed to the extent of reducing them to a form of nonintellectual bullying opposed to the anticipations of debates: creating conducive environment for democracy deliberations. These perhaps are the reasons as to why majority of the current students refer events that seem likely to prompt the emergence of debates to as ‘abstract’ and thus not much concerned about them.

The author reports on how the philosophical approaches coupled with the incorporation of theories in the modern education critically play a pivotal role in reducing the involvements in debates among the modern students community: something that ends up penetrating in the entire societal cultures.

The principle of subjectivity encounters fragmentation with a consequence of deterred intent to seek out far reaching truths dominant in contestation-oriented cultures. Political identity interrogatives and concerns of multiculturalism further exceed the fragmentation of principle of subjectivity, which in their actual sense tend to impair the realization of realities of the past. The period of 1990s saw the emergence of cultural wars that rendered subjects such as literature and history political.

However, over the recent years, college students seem more affiliated to lesser and narrower concerns, despite the remaining of political identity and multiculturalisms realizations and legacies. In one way, the acquisition of philosophical knowledge has greatly aided in inculcating tolerance values. Nevertheless, the tolerances have resulted to the unwillingness to hold any emotional debate that countless baby boomers memorize on or after their seminary.

The manner in which people argue today results to some sort of conclusive remarks that indicate disagreements accompanied by non-willingness to challenge the grounds on which the party involved disagrees. While still incorporating the ability to provide homage to other people’s views, there is much preaching of the support for ideologies of self-esteem by various television shows around the globe.

The author pinpoints one particular example, the ‘Oprah show’, which he believes brought forth a massive number of egocentric folks that he refers to as ‘niche cultures’ that comprise of groups of one mind exchanging their ideas with others of the same caliber thereby discouraging anything that might interfere with what they say. The effect turns out to be the conception of dwindled “dispute disease”, which by itself has far-reaching consequences such as full negligence of inter and intra interaction with the world.