Have Universities Forgotten Their Purpose? | National Review

Have Universities Forgotten Their Purpose? | National Review

They certainly have, says Jessica Hooten Wilson of the University of Dallas in today’s Martin Center commentary.

What they should embody, she argues, is the pursuit of the contemplative life. Professors ought to lead students to what Plato called the “feast of discourse.” Unfortunately, few professors have the slightest interest in doing that, even if they were prepared to, which most are not.

Wilson writes, “Administrations focus on recruitment, retention, and data without considering the faces and stories of students. They copy best practices of other institutions without stepping outside of their fallacious presentism to be innovative or robustly distinctive. They have no courage for risk. While I’ve had devoted colleagues over the years at my institutions, I’ve also witnessed a vast number who never read a book on pedagogy or tried hospitable ways to reach students. Too often, professors go through the motions.”

What is sorely lacking on most of our campuses is anything approaching intellectual mentorship where professors guide students toward “the best that has been thought and said.” Students might graduate with some occupational skills, but without any development of their souls.

Wilson concludes, “Education is an apprenticeship to the tradition that leads to a contemplative life. Without this definition of education, universities will remain in crisis.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.