Educate for Wise Leadership in the 21st Century

General education should prepare students for life, not just a career. The number of general education courses required should remain the same, but the specific courses should be changed. At least six courses should involve serious study of the classics of our tradition.

Through this study students will come to a deeper understanding of the moral principles that are the foundation of our free society.

Freedom can only survive where there are widely accepted standards of ethical behavior, and free society requires leaders who understand fundamental questions of individual and social purpose. Technical education does not produce such leadership. Quite the contrary, education dictated by the demands of the job market tends to focus exclusively on the learning of specialized knowledge and techniques while overlooking the more basic questions of larger social purpose. In the rush to prepare students for careers, higher education has lost sight of the educational values traditionally associated with a quality liberal arts education.

The typical market-basket approach to general education( — requiring students to sample a smattering of disciplines in a totally disjointed package of courses — reveals the absence of any unifying educational vision in higher education. The central purpose of general education should be to begin a philosophical quest for deep understanding of the human condition and of those enduring issues and truths that will prepare students to become wise leaders in their professions and communities.

During the college years, as students advance in their chosen fields they must also be helped to develop the broader intellectual and moral abilities that will permit them to use their professional talents for wise leadership. General Education should begin with a study of those classic works containing our cultural heritage and continue throughout the undergraduate years. The classroom must be devoted to a process of personal discovery that crosses all professional specializations and fosters in young adults the intellectual, esthetic and moral growth without which wise leadership is impossible. The design and conduct of this general education must be in the hands of faculty in the liberal arts who have the deep understanding of our cultural traditions that will enable them to lead students toward wisdom.

Proposed General Education Program:

Eighteen courses including six based on careful study of the classics of our tradition.
Critics of Choice Three say:

1.    Students should not be forced to study ancient works that are largely irrelevant to modern life.

2.    Some students may enjoy studying the classics, but many have totally different interests.

3.    Colleges should not be trying to teach values.

4.    Students go to college to have satisfying careers, not necessarily to become wise leaders.

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