Undereducated and overschooled

Anthony Esolen names a common malady:

When my daughter was young, she would often be asked, not usually by fellow homeschoolers, why she kept reading The Lord of the Rings. I told her to reply, “Because I want to know what’s going on in the world.”

That came to my mind today after a discussion I had with a Catholic men’s group at our school. One of the young fellows told me that his professor in Introduction to Sociology — a typical course assigned during orientation to unsuspecting freshmen — expressed her disdain for our twenty-credit Development of Western Civilization Program, required of all students. “You should be studying something that will be of use to you in the Real World,” she said, “like feminist sociology.”

Pause here to allow the laughter to die down.

Homo academicus saecularis sinister, the creature beside whom I have spent all my adult life, is a source of endless entertainment, like a child with wobbly consonants trying to talk serious grownup. I really could not repress the merriment. . . .

I dearly hope that my students will never consider the sand-furrowing child, or the galumphing retriever, or the setting sun, to be anything other than deeply Real, mysteriously and beautifully and achingly Real, and that their encounter with the great poetry and art of the west, not to mention that perennial philosophy of Aristotle, and that wisdom-seeking eros of Plato, and the word of God itself, will confirm them in their love for that Reality. . . .

The college professor who sniffs at the Gilgamesh, Hesiod, Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Pindar, Plato, Aristotle, Livy, Cicero, Virgil, Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospels, and the letters of Saint Paul — just to take the first semester for example — is not overeducated. That professor is undereducated, and overschooled, a deadly combination. Deadly, but common enough, from what I see, and especially common among people who reduce all matters to contemporary partisan politics, as homo academicus saecularis sinister is wont to do.

via Touchstone Magazine – Mere Comments: The Real World.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Quite true. It’s amazing how many “underwater basketweaving” classes there are in college now. I actually took one of those (The philosophy of time travel); it was a blast, and I was introduced to some really great science fiction, but as far as practical use for everyday life, I’ve yet to fashion a time machine.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Quite true. It’s amazing how many “underwater basketweaving” classes there are in college now. I actually took one of those (The philosophy of time travel); it was a blast, and I was introduced to some really great science fiction, but as far as practical use for everyday life, I’ve yet to fashion a time machine.

  • Booklover

    A quote from an Evelyn Waugh work, found in the comments of the linked-to article:

    “If you approve, headmaster, I will stay as I am here as long as any boy wants to read the classics. I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.”

  • Booklover

    A quote from an Evelyn Waugh work, found in the comments of the linked-to article:

    “If you approve, headmaster, I will stay as I am here as long as any boy wants to read the classics. I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.”

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Bleh. The Hummanties scholar who disdains Vergil, Aristiotle, Augustine and Goethe, would be like the Science undergradu refusing to study Newton and Einstein and Bohr and Aggasiz and Lyell and Darwin and … oh? Never mind…
    :) Gently replacing the lid on the can of worms…

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Bleh. The Hummanties scholar who disdains Vergil, Aristiotle, Augustine and Goethe, would be like the Science undergradu refusing to study Newton and Einstein and Bohr and Aggasiz and Lyell and Darwin and … oh? Never mind…
    :) Gently replacing the lid on the can of worms…

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    That should be “undergraduate”, and “Aristotle” – obviously I need more Bronte in my life… ;)

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    That should be “undergraduate”, and “Aristotle” – obviously I need more Bronte in my life… ;)

  • Kimberly

    “Undereducated and overschooled”, what an accurate description of the (general) system today.

  • Kimberly

    “Undereducated and overschooled”, what an accurate description of the (general) system today.

  • DonS

    Undereducated, overschooled, and way overpriced.

  • DonS

    Undereducated, overschooled, and way overpriced.

  • Cincinnatus

    Louis: Not really a can of worms. The humanities do not and should not particularly “advance” in the same way that the hard sciences do.

    Not that I would object to scientists reading Newton and Einstein…

  • Cincinnatus

    Louis: Not really a can of worms. The humanities do not and should not particularly “advance” in the same way that the hard sciences do.

    Not that I would object to scientists reading Newton and Einstein…

  • Deb

    Great link – undereducated and overschooled is the perfect description!

  • Deb

    Great link – undereducated and overschooled is the perfect description!


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