Chronicles Of Higher Education (Opinion)

Sharon Rieger's picture
Thursday, July 7, 2011

Higher education keeps getting lower. And not just in this state, where the core curriculum at the University of Arkansas’ campus at Fayetteville is being hollowed out. It’s happening all over. In Britain, the study of the humanities is being diluted, too.

Happily, this sad trend has inspired a familiar reaction. Over here, as state universities cut back on required courses that once were considered necessary for a well-rounded education, small liberal arts colleges have taken up the slack. Now comes word from England that A.C. Grayling, the renowned philosopher, has joined with other free-spirited academics to start a new, private College of the Humanities.

These new schools are part of an old tradition. Isn’t that how the first universities in Europe began — as communities of scholars teaching the classical curriculum? They were founded, organized and run by the faculty, not administrators. And out of those universities came a great renaissance, the rebirth of classical education after what we now call the Dark Ages.

Even in the darkest times, learning was kept alive by communities of scholars, whether in ancient monasteries or through that new invention, the university. No matter how dark the times, some never give up on the light. May their tribe increase in our time, too.

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