Monday, April 22, 2013

“A fully realized adult person”

John Churchill, Secretary of Phi Beta Kappa, in the Spring 2013 Key Reporter :

There is a powerful push to vocationalize college curricula and to measure the worth of a degree solely in economic terms. This tendency will magnify differences of access to transformative liberal arts experiences. Ironically, students who would benefit most from immersion in the liberal arts and sciences will be increasingly less likely to encounter them. This is a bad thing for America.

It is time to reassert plain facts. College is not only about training for jobs. It is about citizenship. It is about shaping oneself into a fully realized adult person. It is about learning to cope constructively with questions of meaning and value. In a democracy, we need to take as many of us, as far as possible, down that path.
If powerful and moneyed interests now seeking to reshape higher education have their way, “college” will soon become a two-tier system, with the real thing for a privileged few (MOOC stars have to teach somewhere, right?) and credits and credentials, haphazardly assembled, vocationally themed, for everyone else. If this prospect weren’t in itself appalling, the rhetoric of inevitability that sells it — get on board or be swept away — would be reason enough to object.

comments: 2

The Arthurian said...

Appalling, I agree. And yet... Who is it that measures the worth of a degree solely in economic terms? I think it is the consumer of education. The student, worried about his fortune in a world where an ebbing tide lowers all boats.

Michael Leddy said...

About measuring the worth of a degree in economic terms: I think part of the context (unstated) is the push in several state legislatures to evaluate programs on the basis of graduates’ salaries. More lucrative fields of study: more support.