Mark Edmundson teaches English at the University of Virginia.
For him, teaching is a vital endeavor in which the very souls of his students are at stake. In his recent book, Why Teach? Edmundson “reminds us of the power strong teachers have to make students rethink who they are and who they might become,” says Michael S. Roth, president of Wesleyan University, in a New York Times review. “This is what a real education is all about.”
Mark Edmundson will present Why Teach? In Defense of a Real Education on May 15, as part of the Education in Crisis lecture series at Elmhurst College.
In an interview last year with Inside Higher Ed, Edmundson defined a real education and why it needs defending. “It’s an education in which the student follows the Platonic injunction: Know Thyself … and also seeks to know the world. It’s not about career planning or preparation for success. When you know yourself, career and success can follow with ease—if you want them.”
Why Teach?, a collection of Edmundson’s essays on the subject, draws on his belief in the “democratic mission of liberal education” and his years of experience in the classroom. “He’s hard on both [students and teachers],” Roth writes in his New York Times review, “but underneath the curmudgeonly rhetoric he is desperate to remind them of why real learning and teaching aren’t so much luxuries as necessities.”
Edmundson, who holds a Ph.D. from Yale University, is the author of a number of other books, including The Fine Wisdom and Perfect Teachings of the Kings of Rock and Roll (HarperCollins, 2010); Why Read? (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004) and Teacher: The One Who Made the Difference (Random House, 2002). He also has written for numerous publications, including The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and The Nation, and is a contributing editor to Harper’s.
Edmundson’s talk will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 15, in the Founders Lounge of the Frick Center. A book signing will follow the lecture. For educators, Edmundson’s lecture qualifies for Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs). Forms will be available at the event. Admission is $10 for the general public and free for Elmhurst College students, faculty, staff and alumni. Tickets are available online or at the door, depending on availability. For more information, call (630) 617-3390.