Liberal Learning

In Part I, I considered the reasons why competency-based education is incompatible with liberal learning. Now I want to discuss why it hinders students after graduation, and deprives the world of extraordinary individuals.
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In a recent essay, Mark Shiffman notes that in the fiercely competitive but nonetheless gloomy context in which university students find themselves, many opt to “major in fear.” Fear that they will not find work or...

Competency-based education is a popular trend in higher education circles. It also seems to be a trend that could do great damage to liberal learning. What is competency-based education? It has two key elements. First, any...

Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House remains one of the most sobering novels I have encountered in my life. The protagonist, Godfrey St. Peter, a native Kansan who has spent his career teaching history and culture at...

By long custom at St. John’s College, the president invites to Thanksgiving dinner all our international students, as well as any other students and faculty who are spending Thanksgiving away from home and family. After the events...

Everything is Political Just as I began my college teaching career thirty years ago, the whole academy seemed to have accepted as axiomatic the assertion that “Everything is Political.” This self-evident universal truth...

Some rather distressing, though hardly surprising, developments in our public schools were reported recently by our libertarian friends at reason.com. It seems the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) have decided it is time to reduce “the...
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In this essay, I propose that the paradigm presented by Matthew Arnold on the meaning of culture can and should be a response for understanding the eroding arts and humanities today. The Unmapped...
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I want to steal four minutes of my talking time to speak of the role that the Santa Fe campus has played in my life. I remember vividly the atmosphere around its founding in the years before 1964,...

“If there’s one thing I learned from seminar, it’s that saying what something is NOT, is not the same as saying positively what it IS.” Part I: Before If you choose to go...

Traherne Windows-Audley Chapel My little sister followed me to England, fell in love with the country, fell in love with an Englishman, and fell in love with the English poets. She studied English literature in...
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The intellectual power, originality and prescience of Irving Babbitt becomes with each passing decade more obvious. Scholars familiar with Babbitt's work are used to noting the belated discovery by others of questions that he identified and treated...

Welcome to the Class of 2018. Welcome to their families and friends. Welcome Back to the rest of the College community! There is nothing in the world like the energy in this room as we open...

Webster's defines “intelligent” as “endowed with intelligence or intellect; possessed of, or exhibiting, a high or fitting degree of intelligence or understanding.” This modern understanding of “intelligence” as an innate disposition or propensity differs from earlier understandings...