Thursday, December 13, 2012

Goodbye, Liberal Arts?

Betsy Woodruff, one of my favorite conservative columnists, pens a good essay on educational standards over at NRO:

"The greater problem here is the premise behind the change: that students read so they can learn how to process information and eventually get jobs as information processors. If that’s why kids go to school, then we should have stopped wasting time on pishposh like The Catcher in the Rye decades ago. Washington education bureaucrats must be puzzled about how the West survived at all when its education principles weren’t narrowly focused on career optimization. Why didn’t the Irish monks illuminate manuscripts on how to properly rotate pastures? Can we really consider Erasmus educated when he didn’t have access to “Recommended Levels of Insulation”? Could it be possible that students didn’t always go to school just to learn how to make money?"

Good question about those Irish monks! Actually, I wouldn't bemoan the loss of The Catcher in the Rye. That book kind of stinks, plus or minus a few bright spots.

Woodruff highlights another important point, though. Most of what we hear coming from the Federal and state governments is about how we need to make schools "competitive" or whatever in order to prepare our students for the "jobs of the future." Notwithstanding the hilarity of the President calling for "competitiveness," it remains a depressing fact that many people seem to look upon education merely and solely as a means to a job. There is no thought given to thought; no consideration given that school might be a way to expand one's mind farther than training for the futuristic jobs for which one is being trained. Unfortunately, I was homeschooled for over a decade, so I guess I'm stuck in the jobs of the past, whatever they may be. I dunno. Whaling? Candlestick making?

Anyway, with respect to Woodruff, I'm more of a St. Thomas More fellow myself. For my money, you don't get any better than The Confutation of Tyndale's Answer and the tragic caricature of Friar Barnes.

No comments:

Post a Comment