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Coherence in teaching: An idea so crazy it just might work.

But why would any student spend tens of thousands of dollars and, rather than see the world in all its aspects, instead spend his time being indoctrinated and immersed in the prejudices of the current culture and the opinions of his tendentious professors? The job of teachers is to liberate minds, not capture them.

Contemporary political issues of race, class and gender do not define what’s truly important. That’s the greatest fallacy of higher education today.

Reform at the university level will require brave work by deans and presidents. A hundred-course set of “distribution requirements” with minimally guided choice fosters intellectual randomness. Instead, the best faculty should put together a coherent program of core studies to introduce students to the finest books, to alternative answers to the most compelling questions, to great literature and art and pivotal historical events. Contemporary political issues of race, class and gender do not define what’s truly important. That’s the greatest fallacy of higher education today.

Second, find ways to increase interaction with departments of business, engineering, pre-med and the like. Most students will properly go on to work in various vocational, professional or technical fields. They should be offered our civilization’s best work and its broadest vision—but humanities teachers should not begin with the notion that business and law will be “improved” by the humanities. The benefits flow both ways.

Finally, a word to secondary schools and their teachers: You may be the last hope many of your students will have to think broadly and seriously about literature, science, math and history. If they don’t read Homer or Shakespeare, or marvel at the working of the universe, or read and understand the Constitution, they never will. The hope of liberal learning rests on your shoulders. Please don’t shrug.


Continued at ‘The Suicide of the Liberal Arts’ in the Wall Street Journal | More Chronicle & Notices.

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