Friday, September 30, 2005

# Posted 10:17 AM by Patrick Belton  

MICHAEL LIND, WRITING IN PROSPECT, OFFERS a stirring defence of the humanistic university and its social usefulness in fostering a mandarinate intelligentsia to defend liberal values, as opposed to a class of technocratic specialists powerless to withstand the pull of the populisms of the left and right.

I quibble with whether the ideal he describes is quite so much in decline: I've certainly come across it quite strongly at Oxford, and earlier at Yale as well. My personal impression might be that technocratic specialisation is more inculcated by the British former polytechnics and American state universities to create niches in which their graduates can compete with those of the grander sounding unis. The question is rather whether liberal humanistic education has then become a luxuriant preserve of graduates who can coast on the names of their universities in the labour market, a state of affairs which has its unsettling aspects as well.

But it's nonetheless an ideal quite worth defending and expanding (who ever writes pieces, or posts, arguing for ditching liberal education?), and I find the way he goes about doing so to be quite resonant.
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