As the grandson of Iowa farmers, as a man with specialized academic degrees, as someone working to revive education, this article is relevant to my core.
“Does a liberal education so broaden the minds of its pupils that it turns them into learned cosmopolitans who cannot go home anymore? In other words, how can students go back to the farm after having read Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare?”
“The humanistic education I received over the course of too many degrees enabled me to escape my past, at least partly.”
“By so broadening the mind, does it narrow the person? By liberating the educated person to see things whole, does it shackle that person to a blindness than cannot recognize the full scope of our humanity?”
“I am haunted by the potential narrowness of a liberal education, since it tempts us to look at students and ourselves as merely minds without bodies, that is, without reference to the families and communities in which we learned to talk, treat others politely, endure eccentric neighbors, root for football teams, and fall in love.”
“For without the real generation of children who learn about the West and its virtues from parents, neighbors, teachers and pastors, a liberal education may become little more than a game for cosseted academics, or a disembodied five-foot shelf of decorative books, cut off from real people whose lives and communities embody and situate the true, the good, and the beautiful.”