Parents and their kids, students traditional and non-traditional are coming to the realization that Higher Education is either a ruse, or something to endure to get a certificate of some sort so that they can get a job.
Here, the author blows the lid off this a bit, while defending the purpose of liberal learning. There are many good schools, but most of them present slop to the students. Take my own West Liberty University, where the comic book major is a serious, serious endeavor. No seriously. What could be more enlightening to the human soul than contemplating like the pre-teens in Stand By Me about who is stronger—Batman or Superman?
What about a class on: Goofy: dog or subhuman, or just what the hell is he? Oh the intellectual benefits from a major on such topics boggles the mind and has for centuries. We can surmise that St. Thomas Aquinas would be perplexed to the point of angst considering these topics.
Back to reality, and in all seriousness, for real this time: this university needs to clean up its act. Places like West Liberty cannot survive long by offering meaningless courses to students or by turning liberal arts into a practical vocation, like they are doing even as we speak.
Higher education as a whole needs serious rescuing, and time is running out for the republic.
American higher education is under attack by pundits, plutocrats and public officials who believe that many professors don’t work hard and that what they produce is of little value to society. Most of their attacks are off-base, but there is a grain of truth in their claims. Academics who believe in the mission of higher education—teaching, research, and public service—need to defend academic freedom, but some of our colleagues have to clean up their acts, because it is difficult to defend the indefensible.
There are many academics who write books, articles, and technical papers for colleagues in their own areas of expertise, but who also know how to translate their work into prose accessible to the general public. They share a commitment to the idea that colleges and universities—subsidized directly and indirectly by taxpayers—have an obligation to serve society. That means climbing down from the ivory tower and sharing their knowledge with people who aren’t academics. The tradition of liberal arts colleges and land-grant universities alike is the notion of “enlightenment,” which means educating, explaining, and illuminating ideas that might be practically useful or simply interesting for their own sake. Over the past decade, there’s also been growing interest in getting both professors and students to participate in various forms of public service, including a big increase in student internships and engagement with the worlds outside the campus.