Saturday, February 18, 2017

Elitists and liberal arts

William Deresiewicz:

It is not the proponents of a liberal arts education who are the elitists; it is those who would reserve it for a lucky few. If you think the humanities have any value, whether as a doorway to enlightenment or just as cultural capital, then they are valuable for everyone and should belong to everyone.

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life (New York: Free Press, 2014).
I’m reminded of something I wrote in a 2015 post: “The idea that the humanities are for ‘rich kids’ is one that any humanist must reject.”

Related reading
Other Deresiewicz posts

[As I write this post, the public university where I taught for thirty years is considering an ad hoc committee’s recommendation that the philosophy major be eliminated. Philosophy? Don’t even think about it.]

comments: 4

Elaine said...

Do you think that this will really happen?
Our daughter had two 'concentrations' (as Hendrix College would call them): philosophy and physics. She considered this logical and sensible. (Newton would have called himself a philosopher, not a scientist ....). It would seem that for her, the study of the one enhanced her appreciation of the other. I can't help wondering what her path would have been without the philosophy piece1

BTW, I finally added to my blog after a long hiatus. Do stop by.

Michael Leddy said...

I think it’s likely. Another Illinois state school has eliminated its major. As have state schools elsewhere. It’s all part of the recasting of public higher education as vocational training. There’s nothing wrong with vocational training — not at all! — but a university requires different commitments.

I saw your post in my reader, Elaine, and it made me wonder what those people are thinking. Do you know about the plan to send postcards to Paul Ryan’s home address? Snopes is skeptical about the claim that he’s turned off the phones, but I still like the idea of cards showing up at his door.

Elaine said...

I will look for Ryan's address!

Michael Leddy said...

Here it is:

700 St. Lawrence Ave.
Janesville, WI 53545