A provocative article in Public Discourse by Dr. Robert C. Koons on the large state university model, from which many students receive their college education (and from which I received my graduate education in engineering). Koons makes the point that “New technological developments and pressing national needs suggest that the future of higher education may be one friendlier to the classical tradition of liberal education.” An excerpt:
As Babbitt observed, the superficial tensions between the “two cultures” of scientific pragmatism and romantic individualism merely disguise their more fundamental affinities. Both are united in their rejection of the teleologically ordered cosmos of the classical tradition, with its finite and universal goal of happiness-through-self-restraint (eudaimonia). In its place, the moderns substitute the unbounded pursuit of infinite progress, both through the attainment of ever-greater technical power over nature (including human nature) and through the ever-novel exercise of the idyllic imagination and the ever-freer indulgence of spontaneous whim. These aspirations expressed themselves in the new college curriculum of the twentieth century, which substituted a smorgasbord of electives for a common and coherent course of studies, and replaced the scholar’s reflection and synoptic vision with the fragmentation and hyper-specialization of the professional researcher.
Read the whole thing.
Koons’ argument reminds me of the curious propensity of students (and faculty) of large state universities to be overwhelmingly liberal in their political orientation. As Thomas Sowell would say, they have an unconstrained worldview.