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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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Remembering Our Story

(p.95) 4 Tradition
Wendell Berry and Higher Education

Jack R. Baker

Jeffrey Bilbro

Wendell Berry

University Press of Kentucky

In “Pray without Ceasing,” Andy discovers that his own ignorance of his community’s history didn’t prevent that history from forming and shaping his life. Similarly, students ought to learn from their cultural past in order to understand more deeply how that past shapes them; understanding history is a precondition for working toward its healing. As students develop the habit of memory, they can participate in a rich, ongoing conversation that equips them to attend and tend to their places. This participation is particularly important in an educational environment where technologies that access information are valued. Such technologies can be useful, but when they become normative, we outsource knowledge to “the cloud” rather than internalizing knowledge and forming it, through memory, into wisdom. Faculty and students can develop simple practices that cultivate the habit of memory: memorizing poems, studying etymologies, remembering their places, and learning the human history of their disciplines. Furthermore, despite the contrived nature of university communities, they can foster institutional memory as a way of teaching students the importance of participating in communities that pass down local knowledge to succeeding generations.

Keywords:   “Pray without Ceasing”, memory, tradition, technology, attention

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