Monday, March 30, 2009

Harvard Defends the Classics

A recent article in highlights Harvard's efforts to reinvigorate the classics.

I sometimes worry that I portray myself as a dyed-in-the-wool utilitarian when it comes to education. Phrases like "21st century skills" and "relevance" and "engagement" have become part of my vocabulary. But I'm not just that -- I think we need to find ways to make learning the classics relevant in the world today. I think students need a background in the "basics" but also need to see how this shapes the world we live in today. One of the most influential books on the thinking on the subject is Cicero's De Officiis -- he sums my hopes for putting classical learning to use for the contemporary world.

My favorite quote in the article says it all:

Harvard hopes to bring more of its undergraduates back to the university's liberal arts roots. President Drew Faust, a Civil War historian, has said that education in the humanities prepares students to challenge the status quo.

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