Sunday, December 23, 2012

NYC on problems of class and college: for class next semester

An excellent feature article, exposing the complicated difficulties young people from low-to-middle income families face in getting through college.

A "teachable moment", this article will be required reading at the start of my section of next semester's Environmental Sustainability class.

As befits a general education course intended as something of a capstone in liberal arts and sciences learning, we'll begin with a full and intensive exposition of the purposes and goals of general education, as well as a stringent analysis of both the academy's and the students' success so far in meeting them.

Both will be found wanting.

The academy routinely fails to make the case for liberal learning, while the students routinely undervalue it, and underperform accordingly.

Yet the continuity of civilization requires it.

The evidence lies before us in the events of this past fall in America, as the country was faced with one desperate issue after another, all for public debate. How else are we to proceed, in the light of the so-called Fiscal Cliff, the Newtown massacre, or the climate change that led to Hurricane Sandy, except through liberal inquiry and learning.

The alternatives are chaos and anarchy or the development of yet another evil totalitarianism. Liberal arts and sciences inquiry is the social vaccine that prevents either disease.

How can we do better?

And how can a young person in society be taken seriously as a degree-trained leader, if that person is not willing to begin to properly develop the faculties of liberal arts and sciences inquiry?

Next semester we will attempt an "intervention," as we do each and every semester in this particular class.

Reading this article and discussing it will begin that intervention.

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