Mark Bauerlein writes sympathetically about the education experiences of cadets at the USMA and at Pat Conroy’s alma mater. Here’s a snippet:
Lieutenant General Lennox at West Point believes that the humanities are necessitated in the curriculum by the current geopolitical situation. After cadets graduate, they soon depart for "the edge of our ethical world," he says, meaning not just life-or-death situations, but cultural, religious, and ethical traditions deeply foreign to our own. To "face those challenges with understanding," he insists, they need imagination and wisdom to comprehend the values and motives of uncertain friends and enemies. They need to defend themselves verbally as well as physically. Those skills and knowledge come from humanistic study and critical self- analysis: "You don’t want your army to be mindlessly patriotic."
It has always seemed to me that the best incentive to take one’s own education seriously and to invest oneself in it is the sense that something significant is at stake. Bauerlein seems to think the students he encountered have such a sense. Do students at our (other) elite institutions?