Swift And Scoble

In a stack of papers called Connections.

  • Jan
  • 02
  • 2008

“A Modest Proposal” is the classic irony, where Jonathan Swift’s ridiculous answer to a problem pushes readers toward actual solutions. Robert Scoble’s “The RIAA is right” has the same idea, though with more complaints than answers to the problem.

If you’re planning to teach something as far removed from modern day experience as Jonathan Swift (and there are plenty of good reasons to do such a thing), showing students a contemporary version of the same technique would be a good idea. I wonder if a list of classic literature can be augmented with modern uses of the same strategies. Or maybe a list of literary terms with classic and modern uses.

Attention draws away from the authors and moves toward the methods used; suddenly, these things become more relevant. You end up teaching the strategy that Swift used. Swift, himself, doesn’t matter. All that matters is his version of one way to make your point. Now it’s up to the students to find ways to use that strategy or ways that strategy is used already.

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