Proposal for Consideration. Darwin's Big Idea is that organisms adapt to changing environments. Darwin does not suggest progress, only adaptation. How do genres adapt to changing social and political situations? How do writers and poets adapt to events in an environment they cannot understand completely? Do their avatars (characters) develop reflexes, habits of reaction to patterns of events? Indeed, we might propose that such reflexes are the results of systems of education; in other words, in college, you do not improve. Instead, you develop habits of reaction, a facility for adaptation.
If you'll permit the simile, such habits are like the codes and ciphers we've studied. Each plain-text letter reacts systematically to an encryption algorithm. Once completed, the encryption conveys the plain text safely through a hostile environment. So, too, you. You come into college, react systematically to an education algorithm, and pass, (hopefully) encrypted for safe passage, beyond the walls.
Or like a hacker, trained in the particulars of a system, n-map the world, find an open port, and rummage around for something to tinker with.
No progress. No development. No forward, no moving, no next stage. These are all metaphors masking the real activity of the exploring mind in a fixed environment. Or to take Shakespeare a little more literally (As You Like It, 2.7), we do not improve, but we each of us pass from age to age and play several parts, none the better, none the worse. There is no perfection to measure against. You alone play your part.
Well, that is the sum and consummation of the course. What do you think?