October 20, 2014

DEATH OF THE LIBERAL ARTS: Less A Murder Than A Suicide?

Agresto said that much humanities instruction has been co-opted by hyperspecialization and especially by critical theory. He said overly-critical approaches at once demean the subject matter and limit students’ free inquiry. For example, he said, when professors portray the founding fathers as mere “white racists,” no student or parent “in their right mind” would pay $50,000 a year to study them.

To save the humanities, professors must value opening up students’ minds over “preaching and converting,” he said. That means returning to an older mode of instruction, and instilling critical thinking skills. It means getting students to ask questions and helping them see the “variety” of answers – not leading them to a specific point of view, he added.

In the past and at their best, the liberal arts were a “gift” given to everyone, Agresto said. “It didn’t matter that Dante and Homer were dead white males,” and keeping Shakespeare alive wasn’t an “ethnocentric act.”

Indeed. In fact, it’s trying to kill off Shakespeare that is an act of temporal chauvinism.

UPDATE: At the link, lefty commenters already launching ad hominem attacks. Because that’s what they do.

InstaPundit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.