yotg discussion (no spoilers)

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at ic.ac.uk
Fri Jan 5 06:40:00 EST 2001


 Philip Belben:
+ I think the underlying assumption that <you go to the magical school/
+ university and they don't teach anything but magic> stood out for me 

>Tanaqui:
>I can't think what other universities might be expected. Magic is the meta-
>skill which encompasses 'most anything, just as an abstraction of the 
>scientific method would equip people to accomplish stuff in biology or bio-
>chemistry or chemistry or metallurgy or materials sciences (those headers
are
>all Oxford Uni courses, and each one blends into the ones next to it). And
>university education is, after all, about Abstraction rather than Skills,
>which is what used to separate Universites and Polytechnics (of course,
elitism
>came into play because concrete stuff is insufficiently valued).

But you aren't taught "The Scientific Method"- you're taught how to do
biology or materials, and you pick up the deeper method from amongst that.
(Each field of science has different enough techniques - even, between say
paleontology and physics, different versions of the method- can't run
experiments to see how tyrannosaurs evolved, it's deductions after the fact-
that knowing the abstract, questioning, evidential *values* of science isn't
enough to *be* a scientist.) 
I'd bet that these students are taught magic, not The Magical Method. And
magic may be a meta-skill replacing science as the underpinning of the
world, (although, why wouldn't anybody be interested in evolution, or
geology, just because the world is magical? I think there'd be room for
science in a magical world. And engineering. What if magicians can't be
bothered to spend their time making enough steel for everyone who needs it?
Wouldn't metallurgists be in demand?) but I bet you still need historians,
artists, psychologists, designers, even philosophers and literary critics
and practical theologians, and I don't think knowing how magic works would
be a substitute for humanities and social sciences stuff. 
I also think any university should have people researching and teaching lots
of different things, so you can communicate, get cross-fertilisation of
ideas rather than edging deeper into your specialist rut, and widen people's
views of the world- if only magic is worth studying, what does that do to
magicians' views of non-magical people?

Jennifer
BSc (Hons) Genetics and Zoology, Leeds, 1996 - fascinating, but if there'd
been one in Sorcery and Zoology, I'd have signed up like a shot.
MA Librarianship, Sheffield, 2000.
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