In the article Rhetoric and Competition, Linda Hutcheon provides an interesting angle on counter discourse in academia, and how critical thinking can be shared in a more substantive manner through co-operation instead of combative techniques. Her angle on “wolfish high education” is very relevant today as we are currently seeing a shift in University discussion approaches from in class debate style tutorials which can be intimidating for some, to online discussions, which in turn can be more additive in information as a whole. Increasing levels of communication technology are bringing new approaches of collaboration and community discussions. Rather than sinking another person’s intellect, it is more productive to have constructive criticism and collaborate than to simply win the zero-sum game. As discussed in this course lecture, there is an important difference between truth and validity. Rather than continuing to have a black or white reasonings, productive academic discussions can flourish through compromise and intersections of ideas.
Her angle on ancient Greece and Western culture playing a role in our competitive inclination in academic discussion also raises the question of our Eurocentric tendencies to overlook other types of education strategies. For example, many Asian cultures tend to be much more collaborative such as the Japanese education curriculum. Marierohmova makes a great point in her blog post that competition is “hindering our scientific progress”, instead of the full potential of collaborative discourse. Hence, perhaps it is time to focus on a more collaborative approaches in our education systems as seen in Asian developed nations.
Hutcheon continues her argument towards the economic political system of Western societies in relation to our aggressive academic techniques. Capitalist market economies transcends in our academic approaches. Comparatively, Mary Bateson also touches this in her journal article, through the analogy of the Babylon tower, dividing populations to prevent them to collaborate on “the solutions of life”. Hutcheon on the other hand uses the term “Agon” in Greeks philosophy of coming together through competition. These philosophical perspectives resonate from the political structures, all the way to the idea of the “self” within a community. Nevertheless, in her article, Hutcheon ironically opens a discourse for us to reflect upon. Does the status quo of aggressive debate education need to be reformed, and are there better ways through more additive collaborative formats of education? Through rapid globalization and merging of cultures, Hutcheon’s and Bateson’s arguments demonstrate that the time for collaboration in academic discourse techniques has never been better than right now.
Hutcheon, L. (2003). RHETORIC AND COMPETITION: Academic Agonistics. Common Knowledge,9(1), 42-49
Bateson, M. C. (2016). The myths of independence and competition: Myths of independence. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 33(5), 674-677. doi:10.1002/sres.2424