First off, this great Hillsdale prof, Nathan Schlueter, wrote a pithy and up-to-date defense of Great Books education for NRO today. He poses this genuine liberal education, against its imposter, which he calls “Liberalist Education.”
Liberalist education is characterized by three features: First, a suspicion of all authority, including the authority of truth; second, the celebration of autonomy and individual choice; third, a commitment to social justice.
Or as Bob Dylan would say to Liberalist Education Personified,
Yes, I wish that for just one time, you could stand inside my shoes.
You’d know what a drag it is to see you.
But hey, the best part for old Mort would be this comment elicited by Schleuter’s piece, by one “Cole.”
I graduated form a liberal arts college and have since worked for moving companies, as a bouncer, driving a school bus, and as an EMT . . . Not the most glamorous jobs, but I’ve always had a job since graduation, and in this job market that is saying something. More important, though, is the fact that I’ve always been happy, regardless of what I’m doing to pay the bills, because of an internal life rich in art, music, philosophy, and literature.
Well, of course Cole will eventually learn that being cultured doesn’t spare you from unhappiness, even if it does from a certain kind of dehumanized boredom.
But Cole’s whole comment, not to mention the mere idea of a Great Books bouncer, warms my heart, and Mortimer Adler would love it too. See his beautiful essay “Labor, Leisure, and Liberal Education” in his Reforming Education , or the expansion of it into a common-sense (i.e., Adlerized-Aristotle) 90-page guide to ethics at the beginning of The Time of Our Lives , to see why.