An education conducted in a spirit of free inquiry undertaken without concern for topical relevance or vocational utility. This kind of learning is not only one of the enrichments of existence; it is one of the achievements of civilization. It heightens students' awareness of the human and natural worlds they inhabit. It makes them more reflective about their beliefs and choices, more self-conscious and criticising, speaking, critical and logical thinking. Law schools report that by the yardsticks of law review and grades, their top students come from math, classics, and literature, with political science, economics, "pre-law “and” legal studies" ranking lower.
In today’s fast evolving world, leaders across the spectrum of vocations and
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At least three factors are at work in this decline: a) the creation of increasingly specialized disciplines, and the rewards for faculty members for advancing knowledge in those areas; b) the economic premium that is thought to reside in a highly technical form of preparation for careers; and c) a growing focus on graduate education from the early 20th century to the present day. These developments have clearly not been beneficial for American undergraduate education.
"Liberal education in crisis" is a tiresomely familiar theme, and countless commissions, reports, and study groups have attempted to address it. I am under no illusions that I have the magic key to resolve a problem that has stumped so many brilliant educators. But these are not just theoretical quandaries, they are the issues we confront almost every day: How do we defend liberal education against the skeptics—parents, potential students, the media, the marketplace, even some trustees and students?
The first, most practical defense is that the liberal arts (and sciences) are the best possible preparation for success in the learned professions—law,