Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Right College

David Brooks has a really nice piece in the New York Times today on going to the "right" university. His last several paragraphs confirm what a number of Ashbrook Scholars have told me about what they discover when they meet students from other schools at conferences or internships. It’s a fine reminder that education is a long, patient labor of love over hard questions, and it can be done by anyone, anywhere.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Dr. Sikkenga,
An excellent choice of an article to have picked for those already in college as well as those in high school. In addition to the part you pointed out, I wish to draw attention to one other important point in the article. Brooks shows how the students in high-school have learned in the most boring sort of way. Then he says: "If you have done all these things and you are still an interesting person, congratulations, because the system has been trying to whittle you down into a bland, complaisant achievement machine." I think that the system at many colleges is to continue this with their foolish core requirements. Students are made to take boring 101 courses in a myriad of subjects and only get a small chance to study in their majors. For instance, an average major at Ashland is between 30 and 45 credit hours. This means that students only spend one to one and a half years on their majors! The other two and a half to three years are spent doing courses in a thousand other disciplines. We need a change.

I actually think Ashland does a fairly good job. I just feel so much pity for the students at state schools where this is out of control. Job security for teachers in these required disciplines should be secured by having a greater number of students voluntarily taking their courses, not by requiring every student to take one or two of them in the course of their college degree.

Isn’t the point of a Liberal Arts degree that you become familiar with a wide range of topics and thus train your mind in a certain manner that will help you become a more complete person? In order to understand Politics, one must have a grasp of History. Philosophy and English are similar to one and other. Physics, theology, philosophy, Politics, etc. all are relevant to one and other. To be educated is to have an understanding of each.

Philosophy is still a dangerous subject. But perhaps it is time to reconsider Daniel Ortega and the curse of specialization. Does resistance to this alter the reality? Is it possible to be educated in a wide variety of subjects, or do you simply fall prey to a "fatal conceit", that is knowing enough to be dangerous?

A very interesting theme.

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