Yesterday I spoke about liberal education with NPR’s Eric Westervelt on All Things Considered. Here are a few excerpts:
On the long debate over liberal arts education in America
This tension between the useful and the wide-ranging, that tension goes all the way back to the founding of this country — because even though Jefferson and Emerson, let’s say, were very much in favor of a wide-ranging and broad education, they also thought the proof was in the pudding. You had to be able to do something with it, and Jefferson talked about the useful arts. He thought you’re going to be less useful or less pragmatic if you narrowed yourself too early.
On whether higher education is necessary for success
There are people who just think, “Some of us just don’t need a lot of education. Most people need something more specialized because the economy has shifted.” … Throughout American history people have said, “Yes, it’s because the economy has shifted.” They said that in 1918, they said that in 1948, and now they’re saying it again.
Today the shifts in the economy mean technological change will only produce accelerated pace of innovation, of changing relations to audiences. A broad, wide-ranging education is the best way to be able to shape that change rather than just be victimized by it.
You can listen to the full interview here.