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20 August 2012


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Many of the points you bring up here support my contentions about the value of the liberal arts education, especially in that last section: "it remains each man's duty to retain an understanding of the whole human person in which the values of intellect, will, conscience, and fraternity are preeminent" [GS61]. "Great care must be taken about civic and political formation... Those who are suited or can become suited should prepare themselves for the ... very noble art of politics, and should seek to practice this art without regard for their own interests or for material advantages" [GS75].

I wonder if it wouldn't be advantageous to consult Blessed John Henry Newman's The Idea of a University.


Melanie: Thank you for the idea to see Newman. I just requested it from the library (and I am aware it's available online, but I still like paper books for thoughtful reading).

I like to think that I managed to retain an understanding of the whole human person through my *private* study and thought and interactions with others, even though there was not an emphasis on it in either of my degree programs. Do we really need to pay hundreds of dollars a credit hour to acquire that kind of an education, or do we just need a library card?


I seem to be all over the place in your comment boxes, fragmenting the conversation. I think my comment in the other thread addressed this question, but for the sake of continuity I'll sum up the relevant part here as well.

I think we need to get rid of the hundred of dollars a credit hour model of liberal arts education and find a way of returning to the classical idea of the university, which was quite affordable. But you already touch on my response in what you said: "I managed to retain an understanding of the whole human person through my *private* study and thought and interactions with others". What a classical university provides which a library card cannot is the interactions with others, the community of people who are engaged in the pursuit of the intellectual life.

Perhaps in this day of the internet that virtual community can supplement the library card to a certain extent; but I'm a firm believer in the necessity of face-to-face interactions and real life conversations. I just don't think tapping away in little boxes-- as helpful as it is, obviously!-- is a full substitute for the ideal university experience. But of course what we are seeking is probably not the elusive ideal but some realistic compromise between idealism and pragmatism. As you say, you can get there without a formal course of study. I suppose either course of study has gaps and we fill them as best we can.

Barb S.

Just want to say that I am enjoying reading all these posts.

I am currently getting ready for another year of homeschooling. and with it the anxiety as to whether our children are getting the right education.

Thank you for this about "the necessary content of education."

Alexander Berger

I definitely think that college is killing religion. I am not making a judgment, just stating a fact. College teaches you to think about things from a modern scientific perspective that is often at odds with christian theology.

My parents home schooled me so I have always questioned the value of traditional education. Most recently I dropped out of college in order to pursue self education. If you are interested, you can see the article I wrote about it here:


Great Post!


I was going to say in posts about economics that it is extremely dangerous to generalize about "going to college" because of the great variety of experiences that are under that umbrella.

Whether "going to college" is worth the cost or not, whether it kills your soul or not, depends very much what you make of it.

I disagree that a scientific perspective and a Christian perspective are at odds. In any case, a university education is not necessary for either.


I very much disagree that a scientific perspective and a Christian perspective are necessarily at odds. What are at odds are a Christian perspective and a relativist-materialist perspective, which sadly, is prevalent in much of academia.

However, a solid formation pre-college can do much to inoculate students against relativism and materialism. If students' worldview cannot stand up to testing in a hostile environment, it very often betrays a lack of solid foundation. I do think that by the time you hit college you should be ready to meet the intellectual challenge of being confronted by a multiplicity of worldviews. A faith that can only survive in a greenhouse is not really a robust faith that will weather the storms of life.


Yeah -- some people could do with a little "hardening-off" of their greenhouse-grown faith.

Miia Tolonen

In my place in Finland country education is not been an issue for other things it is always equal,most of the people in part of Helsinki are doing some self studying and for me that is really a good things,i am glad that i read some issue about this one to be honest never heard it yet before.

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