(June 12, 1987)
To be honored by the title “Distinguished Professor of the University: Teaching” a faculty member must not only be a master scholar, but also a master teacher. And as you know one doesn’t become a master communicator of knowledge and skills by happenstance or coincidence. One chooses to be, one dedicates oneself to be, an outstanding pedagogue. Thirty-five years ago Anthony Canedo made the choice to be such a teacher; I quote him: “…I decided to concentrate largely in preparing myself to teach, to become a teacher-scholar rather than a scholar-teacher… Since I wanted to teach, I set out to do so, preparing and preparing…I have listened to the great teachers; I have watched the great teachers.”
The awarding of this prestigious title to a Professor of English signals a unique message to the citizens of this state. And that message is this: We at Central appreciate and honor those among us who excel at teaching great literature, writing skills and critical thinking. A Central parent, commending the selection of Dr. Canedo wrote us that his son said, “. . . Canedo made me think.” The parent continued, “(My son) has been most complimentary about Dr. Canedo before, as have other average, young, non-literary men who suddenly find an English professor who makes their brains start working.” Another letter of commendation which already has been mentioned comes from a faculty member at another institution. The letter writer states, “I’m writing . . . to tell you, twenty-six years later, that I have not forgotten that (University of Washington English) class nor the effectiveness of your teaching. The memory has sharpened since I became an English Professor myself . . . I hope that it is not too late to express my appreciation for your influence.”
A current scholarly hero of mine is an academic from the University of Chicago named Allen Bloom. His new book Closing of the American Mind takes kind of a cranky look at American education values. He has a jaundiced view of the current notion that open mindedness, and the consequent relativism that seemingly makes open mindedness the only plausible stance in the face a pluralistic society is the great insight of our times. He maintains this “openness” has the paradoxical effect of “closing” the American mind, particularly of the recently college educated, because we have sloughed-off our cultural and intellectual and spiritual roots.
To the point of our honoree tonight, Bloom writes,” teachers of writing in state universities, among the noblest and yet most despised laborers in the academy have told me that they cannot teach writing to students who do not read, and that it is practically impossible to get them to read, let alone like it . . . . The old teachers who loved Shakespeare or Austen or Donne, and whose only reward for teaching was the perpetuation of their taste, have all but disappeared.”
Well, we’ve gathered tonight to tell the Dr. Bloom’s of the world, and anyone else listening, that we have one of those “despised laborers” here and he is alive and well and terribly noble, and we are honoring him as the most distinguished teacher among us.
Dr. Anthony Canedo.
The plaque itself reads:
“Distinguished University Professor: Teaching” Anthony Canedo
1987 – 1988