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Community of learning : the American college and the liberal arts tradition

Author: Francis Oakley
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 1992.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
In the past decade, criticism of the state of undergraduate education in America has come from many directions and in various forms, from Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, to Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education, to Secretary of Education William J. Bennett's 1984 report To Reclaim a Legacy. In his book Tenured Radicals, Roger Kimball derided current instruction in the humanities as "a program of study  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Oakley, Francis.
Community of learning.
New York : Oxford University Press, 1992
(OCoLC)609929162
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Francis Oakley
ISBN: 0195051998 9780195051995
OCLC Number: 24626437
Description: x, 230 pages ; 22 cm
Contents: I. Institutional: The Bearers of the Tradition in Europe and America. 1. The School: Hellenistic, Roman, Monastic, Cathedral. 2. Studia generalia and the rise of universities and colleges. 3. The colonial college-university and the emergence of the modern American university. 4. College, university, and college-university: the matter of historical significance --
II. Instructional: The Evolution of the Tradition Itself. 1. Jerusalem and Athens: Biblical revelation versus natural reason. 2. Plato and Isocrates: philosophy versus rhetoric. 3. Kristeller and Frankel: liberal education versus liberalism. 4. Reformer and practitioner: educational ideal versus pedagogical practice --
III. Statistical: The Present Context of the Tradition. 1. Institutions: universities, colleges, numbers and types. 2. Students: how many, where and who they are, what they study, and what has changed. 3. Faculty: how many, where and who they are, how they spend their time, what has changed, and what the future holds --
IV. Critical: The Current Standing of the Tradition. 1. The silences of the critics. 2. The geology of alienation. 3. Teaching and research. 4. The plight of the humanities and the matter of general education. 5. Core, canon, grounding, and dissent --
V. Against Nostalgia: The Future Shaping of the Tradition. 1. Nostalgia, cultural inclusion, rhetoric, and teaching. 2. The selective liberal arts college, its traditional strengths and future destiny.
Responsibility: Francis Oakley.
More information:

Abstract:

In the past decade, criticism of the state of undergraduate education in America has come from many directions and in various forms, from Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, to Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education, to Secretary of Education William J. Bennett's 1984 report To Reclaim a Legacy. In his book Tenured Radicals, Roger Kimball derided current instruction in the humanities as "a program of study that has nothing to offer. . .but ideological posturing, pop culture, and hermeneutic word games." And given the intense demands of global competition, others have wondered if liberal arts programs in general should be replaced by more practical, job-oriented courses of study. Has the age-old tradition of education in the liberal arts been betrayed in our lifetime? Is it destined to become a stale vestige of the past? In Community of Learning, Francis Oakley, the president of Williams College, makes a strong case for the values and achievements of the liberal arts in providing a sense of historical continuity and a broader framework in which to come to terms with the problems of the modern world. Noting the "dyspeptic presentism" and "disheveled anecdotalism" characteristic of a good deal of the recent criticism, Oakley attempts to place it in historical perspective. He asserts that the single most important factor shaping the American undergraduate experience today is the unparalleled demographic upheaval of the past thirty years, the nature of the response it evoked, and the energy, imagination, and adaptation going into that response. And, reaching back to a more distant past, he insists that the tradition of education in the liberal arts has always been a highly tension-ridden one that from its very conflictedness has derived much of its enduring vitality. Weaving together historical perspective and recent statistical data, he evaluates current worries about a "flight from the humanities" on the part of students, or from teaching on the part of academics, and addresses such hotly debated issues as curricular coherence, multiculturalism, and the alleged politicization of undergraduate studies. Coming at a time when the age-old tradition of education in the liberal arts is beset by anxious questioning, Community of Learning is a bold affirmation of its established strengths and current efficacy in helping provide students with an enhanced ability to cope with the complex demands of an era of unprecedented change.

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