Fading Glory Days

Is higher education improving or going down hill?

By Richard Wolin (CUNY)

Since the 1980s, the golden age of American higher education has been steadily fading.

In the postwar years, the GI Bill and the community-college system created opportunities for those lacking in background or resources (in many cases, both) to work their way up the educational and professional ladder. During the same period, grass-roots social movements—above all the civil-rights movement and feminism—compelled elite four-year colleges, which spend up to 10 times as much per student as public universities do, to open their doors to students whose class background or race had previously been grounds for exclusion. Continue reading “Fading Glory Days”

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Colleges Should Teach Intellectual Virtues

What should colleges teach?

By Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe (Swarthmore)

Look at what colleges state as their aims, and you’ll find a predictable list: Teach students how to think critically and analytically; teach them how to write and calculate; teach them the skills of their discipline. As important as such goals are, another fundamental goal is largely being neglected—developing the intellectual virtues they need to be good students, and good citizens.

Some academics may cringe at being charged with the task of developing virtue, believing that it’s a job for others—especially when there is so little agreement about what “virtue” even means in a pluralistic society like ours. They are mistaken. In fact, we often encourage such development—if a bit unreflectively. We would do much better to take the time to think through what the central intellectual virtues are, why they are so important, and how they should be integrated into our curricula: Continue reading “Colleges Should Teach Intellectual Virtues”