What is College For?

Ronald Barnett, The Idea of Higher Education (1991, 155-6):

“A genuine higher learning is subversive in the sense of subverting the student’s taken-for-granted world, including the world of endeavor, scholarship, calculation or creativity, into which he or she has been initiated. A genuine higher education is unsettling; it is not meant to be a cosy experience. It is disturbing because, ultimately, the student comes to see that things could always be other than they are. A higher education experience is not complete unless the student realizes that, no matter how much effort is put in, or how much library research, there are no final answers. Indeed, the realization should come that there are all sorts of rival positions, and that there is no absolute way of choosing between them….”

Martha Nussbaum, “Education for Profit, Education for Democracy” in Reading the World (2010, 64-5):

“Unlike virtually every nation in the world, we have a liberal arts model of university education. Instead of entering college/university to study a single subject, students are required to take a wide range of courses in their first two years, prominently including courses in the humanities….  From early on, leading U.S. educators, connected the liberal arts to the preparation of informed, independent, and sympathetic democratic citizens….  Another aspect of the U.S. educational tradition…is its characteristic emphasis on the active participation of the child in inquiry and questioning…. This tradition argues that education is not just about the passive assimilation of facts and cultural traditions, but about challenging the mind to become active, competent, and thoughtfully critical in a complex world.”

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