Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Why we need liberal education

Former congresswoman and Rhodes Scholar Heather Wilson has for the past twenty years served on selection committees for Rhodes Scholarships, so she's come into contact with some of the nation's best and brightest students.  What she says about the one's she's encountered in recent years will surprise few who frequent this blog.  "Even from America's great liberal arts colleges, transcripts reflect an undergraduate specialization that would have been unthinkably narrow just a generation ago."  One wants to fight for the recent health care legislation, another for eliminating nuclear weapons, another to serve his country abroad, but cannot offer an adequate response when asked why.  And consider this:

When asked what are the important things for a leader to be able to do, one young applicant described some techniques and personal characteristics to manage a group and get a job done. Nowhere in her answer did she give any hint of understanding that leaders decide what job should be done. Leaders set agendas.

In other words, the nation's elite colleges and universities are producing graduates with vast technical knowledge, but no appreciable wisdom.  In a way this has been the dilemma of the entire modern age, but it grows steadily worse.

Categories > Education

Discussions - 3 Comments

Another reason to prefer Ashland University to "elite" schools, like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc.

Students from these schools can't describe what makes a good leader, yet our most recent Presidents (HW Bush, Clinton, W, Obama) are all graduates. Very telling.

My favorite line: "A student who wants to study comparative government doesn't seem to know much about the important features and limitations of America's Constitution."

With the rise of the "organization kid," young people are becoming more and more specialized at every younger ages not only in academics but sports, instruments, and other activities as well. The idea being that they might be the next Mozart or Michael Jordan, or will be able to earn a scholarship or "get into the right school" or job. Young people are losing the ability to render judgments about what it means to be human, to some degree, because they are following a technocratic rather than human path.

"Nowhere in her answer did she give any hint of understanding that leaders decide what job should be done. Leaders set agendas"


Look Partners set agendas. The leaders make it happen. The middle manager, the store manager, they just implement policy. I mean an NCO leads, he might in a very limited sense set an agenda. To a very real extent the law or policy sets the agenda.

Leaders in most concrete applications don't really have that much discretion to decide what job should be done.

There is a lot of law that constrains and sets parameters even for partners, not the least of which is contract.

Also no one is a leader in all situations, their is a quite complex tangle of agent-principal relationships, and her academic view of leadership presupposes the full bundle of sticks.

Also one could consider the answer given to follow from an intuitive understanding of seperation of power. In this sense leaders are in the executive branch.

To say that leaders are in charge of deciding what should be done infringes on the function of the legistlative branch (to determine policy, and control spending).

In this sense leadership is the art of executing the battle plan. The decisions that need to be made on the executive side, are part of leadership.

But in terms of the market economy, it would stand to reason that in our commerical republic employers, i.e. principals are looking for "leadership" in agents more along the lines of the answer given than the answer mocked.

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