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Danforth Panel Discussion Features Bell and Gould

By Tom Green

"Writing and teaching are highly divergent occupations and one cannot be done simultaneously with the other," Daniel Bell, professor of Sociology, said yesterday in a Danforth Series lecture entitled "Writing and Teaching--The Twin Demands."


Speaking to approximately 50 students and faculty in the Science Center. Bell and fellow speaker Stephen J. Gould, professor of Geology, agreed that a tension exists between writing and lecturing because writing is a logical process while lecturing is not.

"A good article is often very, very dull because it doesn't involve a performance," Bell said, "while the great lecturers I know have been very poor writers."

Gould said another source of this tension is the "promotion policy" of major universities. While writing is the basis of promotion, teaching receives only minor emphasis at the university level he said.

"I don't subscribe to any romantic notion that teaching should be the major emphasis in tenure," Gould added, "but I do call for some real consideration of one's teaching ability, which today only receives lip service."

Bell said he disagreed with Gould on this point because teaching is an imaginative art and thus should be a minor emphasis in a "great university dedicated to testing, challenging, and creating knowledge."

During the question and answer period following the talks, the two lecturers disagreed on the policy of grading students. Gould said that he believes the current grading system is unfair because it makes fine distinctions that are often used later as a criteria for job placement.

Bell, however, said he valued grading as a method of praising an exceptional student's work. "It's often unfairly used, but we don't want to give everyone an A in sandpile either," he added.

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