Saturday, March 11, 2006

More for students

Once again, thanks to Dorothy King.

David Brooks has written an article for the New York Times with the headline Harvard-Bound? Chin Up. He has 7 recommendations for the neophyte, of which this is one:

Take a course on ancient Greece. For 2,500 years, educators knew that the core of their mission was to bring students into contact with heroes like Pericles, Socrates and Leonidas. "No habit is so important to acquire," Aristotle wrote, as the ability "to delight in fine characters and noble actions." Alfred North Whitehead agreed, saying, "Moral education is impossible without the habitual vision of greatness."

That core educational principle was abandoned about a generation ago, during a spasm of radical egalitarianism. And once that principle was lost, the entire coherence of higher education was lost with it. So now you've got to find your own ways to learn about history's heroes, the figures who will serve as models to emulate and who will provide you with standards to use to measure your own conduct. Remember, as the British educator Richard Livingstone once wrote, "One is apt to think of moral failure as due to weakness of character: more often it is due to an inadequate ideal."
I have often complained to the Heavens and anyone else I could ensnare that though my university education was not bad, politically it was loud noises of the Feminists and Marxists (of various shades) that dominated with ne'er a dissenting view from the assembled imparters of knowledge. Perhaps it is a good thing that you have to learn alone what has made your society so successful, but I resent the fact that the university paid for by the same society did so little to pass on to its youth a just appreciation of its value and rareness. I resent the fact that the classics were not shoved down my throat.

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