I’ve been looking at an editorial in the Fargo Forum, reporting on data in a report published by the National Association of Scholars. It notes a drastic drop in mandatory courses in our best colleges and universities, reduced education in reading and writing, fewer math and science requirements, and the near disappearance of required history, literature, and philosophy courses.
The Forum editor, Jack Zaleski, writes: “Neglect of traditional core studies is bad news for the future. Without the common frame of reference that should be basic to a complete education, the values of the republic and the cohesiveness of our democratic society are at risk. Students who are training to be leaders are being denied knowledge of their civilization and its heritage.”
It is as if our schools, which should be houses of wisdom, have reduced their motto to that old refrain from Burger King ads: “Have it your way.” the problem with letting students choose only what they want is that, lacking a broad education, they have little basis for choosing one course over another.
The saddest part of this report is that it was issued more than twenty years ago and covers American higher education only up through 1993. One can only imagine how very much worse the situation is now.