Friday, February 3, 2023


I have no hesitation in saying that liberal education in America is dying not by murder but by suicide.

        Perhaps there are universities that still proclaim the liberal arts to be the pinnacle of their offerings, but that’s not what the figures show, not what the world thinks, and not what American or foreign students go to university to study.

        Of course, there are any number of reasons, some even good ones, for this flight from liberal education. A few involve forces more or less beyond our control—the current and universal gravitation toward practical and professional training coupled with feeble job prospects for liberal arts graduates ranks high. But some of the decline is due to our own hubris, narrowness, and self-inflicted wounds. If the final obituary for the liberal arts is ever written, it may read: “This beautiful project died not from old age, not only from neglect, and not exactly from murder, but from self-inflicted wounds that look a bit like suicide.”

        …So, yes, you might think the liberal arts have weathered so many storms that they will weather this. But notice: Almost all the political attacks I’ve mentioned came from without. They came from ideologically driven public sentiment and from powerful politicians. They were promoted as part of the agenda of clearly sectarian political/religious institutions. These opponents of liberal higher education we could and did withstand. But today the dismantling of the liberal arts comes from the professors, students, and administrators within bedrock universities and liberal arts colleges. It comes from radicalized departments of history, literature, classics, American studies, and all the myriad of other studies connected to ethnopolitical interest groups. It comes from virtually every school and college of education. This is why I have no hesitation in saying that liberal education in America is dying not by murder but by suicide.

Jonn Agresto, The Death of Learning. [2022] Encounter Books. Kindle Edition.

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