A “Liberal” Arts Education

Philip Mella notes the demise of education in America in a recent post. Tob e fair, I don’t think American education is dead, but it certainly may be on life support when it comes to the liberal arts education so cherished by our forefathers.

Liberal arts education has now become “Liberal” as in leftist arts education. And many professors and college administrators are unabashedly proud of it.

Beyond the fact that the notion of a ‘liberal arts’ education has become something of an oxymoron, what’s more disturbing is the utter lack of candor that such professors have when it comes to their absolute lack of academic honesty. In their hermetic, self-referential world, truth is defined with the post-modernist’s stamp of approval and it’s as rigid as Stalinist dogma, with one notable exception. Defectors or rebels aren’t sequestered in the gulag they’re traumatized into silence with the threat of grade reduction hanging over their heads.

The quaint practice of teaching impressionable minds that ours is a history rich with ideas, innovation, challenges, and remarkable achievements in the arts and literature, has been supplanted by an intellectual smugness and startling lack of curiosity. In that regard, studying the classics has been stigmatized and Western literature is read through the filters of feminism and anti-capitalism where race, gender, and multiculturalism trump fidelity to academic objectivity.

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The result is that college graduates have a pre-set repository of information, all meticulously crafted but without any substantive foundation. Ask a liberal arts graduate to describe the theme or import of Plato’s Parable of the Cave, Aristophanes’ The Clouds, or see what they can tell you about Shakespeare’s King Lear or Hamlet, or, for a good laugh, have them analyze the causes of World War One or the importance of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Education used to be about building a foundation for a man or woman to move into the professional world with a solid understanding of history, arts, sciences and math that they could hold an intelligent discussion on just about any major subject. Today’s students are irretrievably corrupted by the notion that everyting is about your “career field” or about gender, race, or leftist ideology that we can’t seem to embrace any real love of knowledge for knowledge’s sake.

Its too bad reall, because there are lots of things to learn.

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