Confederacy of dunces

January 14, 2010

Kevin Sharpe ("La Triviata: public discourse is trapped in a downward spiral", 7 January) is dead right: the interests and mentality of today's students offer a clear reflection of the anti-thinking nature of modern discourse.

Equally, there is probably not a lot that the academy can do about it, because long before students reach university, they are ensnared in a mindless culture of celebrity, triviality and self-gratification to which there is seen to be no alternative.

Not that those who run our universities want to do anything about it. They see their role as accepting the status quo, which means regarding their students as simple customers and catering to their dumbed-down needs.

The few students who overcome their earlier conditioning and want to ask questions or engage in social and political activity are regarded by both their fellow students and the universities they attend as deviants who, if they want to challenge things through any kind of disobedience, had better watch out. Such students have the temerity to suggest that all is not for the best in the best of all possible worlds and will not be looked on favourably.

Howard Moss, Swansea.

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