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Wendell Berry and Higher EducationCultivating Virtues of Place$
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Jack R. Baker and Jeffrey Bilbro

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813169026

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813169026.001.0001

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An Education for Health and Homecoming

(p.1) Introduction
Wendell Berry and Higher Education

Jack R. Baker

Jeffrey Bilbro

Wendell Berry

University Press of Kentucky

An education for health begins by forming the imaginations and affections of students so that rather than desiring upward mobility, they can imagine healthy, placed lives. The introduction starts with a reading of Hannah Coulter, whose title character describes her fear that she has failed to tell the right stories to her children, thus inadvertently contributing to their desire for upward mobility at the cost of healthy communities. Because our affections have such far-reaching influence—shaping the questions we ask and the ways we arrange knowledge—Berry focuses on the conflicting internal desires termed “boomer” and “sticker” and how we should work to rightly order these desires. The contrast between boomers and stickers—the different desires they have, the different stories they tell, the different questions they ask, the different economies they participate in, and the contrasting models of the university they propose—elucidates the contrast between the educational system we have now and an education for health: the boomer wants to isolate knowledge from its origins in order to maximize its utility and profitability, whereas the sticker values a medieval, rooted kind of learning whose branches connect as much as possible. Thus, the way we organize and order knowledge stems from the kinds of questions we ask, which in turn arise from the orientation of our desires.

Keywords:   Hannah Coulter, boomer, sticker, organization of knowledge, health

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