Well, I realise I’m bashing myself here as well but it is true. I’m going to be honest. I could sleep through a good portion of some of my classes and honest to goodness, still scrape away with a 3.64 GPA.
Any way, I’m trying to speak as someone who has had wisdom gained from a four-year experience as a liberal arts student. Sure, I graduated magna cum laude–fascinating (facetiousness). But I don’t credit that with attributing to learning anything or even an indicator of how smart I am. Some might see it as an accomplishment because they felt it was hard work when they were in my shoes. And damn right, it was hard! In fact, if I was in their shoes, I’d probably barely pass two years. Maybe that’s simply an understatement of my ability.
I suppose if I were to be asked what I in fact learned as an undergraduate, my first comment would be “Not a damned thing!” But that’s not entirely accurate. I learned how to regurgitate someone else’s BS as my own BS. Look, I’m not trying to say that liberal studies is bad but there is a major problem connecting them with public schools. They are supposed to be liberal studies in that they encourage the highest forms of freedom and exhort the student in their quest for truth. This is not an easy thing to do. The problem is that most of the public universities don’t do that! What they do is they pick their most favourite “philosopher” who happens to fit their views the best and they present this “philosopher” as infallible and any one who disagrees with the “philosopher” is going to receive a lower grade.
Now, I was glad that I had a lot of good professors. But some were just plain lousy and clearly had an agenda to press and it was boring to study under those professors. So I remembered to bring my pillow and to study the actual thing in my free time at home God knows how long after graduating.
Most of the things I have learned right now have come from what I have read outside the university setting. I think perhaps some people I know are surprised as to how a person who has graduated with a degree in liberal studies could actually maintain some of the positions that I do. I’m not a feminist. I believe homosexuality and transsexuality are immoral. I believe that tattoos, cutting and other forms of bodily mutilation are immoral as well. Shouldn’t someone who emerged with a degree in the liberal studies find these things well? The answer is, no. This goes back to the previous statement. The liberal studies are meant to engender in man the highest sense of the pursuit of freedom, tearing down the barriers that prevent this pursuit of freedom. If anything, one who just simply adopts the cultural “mainstream” isn’t really experiencing much freedom. All they are doing is they are just simply “going with the flow” of things. Following everyone else to their destruction.
I think this is a significant problem for a lot of the liberal studies programs in our days. I’m not saying all of them are bad or don’t encourage this pursuit of truth but that the good majority of them just dump what is wanted.
Back on topic–I was saying to a student in my class today that they were “lazy” for wanting to study liberal arts at ASU which they then proceeded to defend–“I’m not lazy! ASU has one of the best liberal arts programs in the United States!” You’re lazy, number one–read my comments about my own studies at ASU as a liberal arts student. Number two, how exactly is it determined the best ranking of liberal studies programs?
I found this site here. What I noticed as I was reading that article is how little the indicators focus on quality. The difficulty of measuring quantity vs. quality is you really aren’t given the actual quality of the school as the result. Rather you are given a bucket of which schools have said better numbers than other schools. Okay…this still does not add up to quality of the school!
Retention of students and graduate rate does not indicate one is getting “better education”. What it means is that the school is doing whatever to keep these people in and getting them out with degrees. Diploma mills tend to have high rates of these.
Faculty dedication to teaching doesn’t indicate that a school is necessarily better either. There may be a lot of teachers who are dedicated to teaching but are they actually producing the right means of teaching their subject. I have seen academians that say some of the most baseless things (the majority of them focus in women’s studies, which really ought to be removed from the academy all together). I have taken a course in my religious studies undergraduate career that stated St Hildegard of Bingen was a promoter of lesbianism! HA! St Hildegard of Bingen?!? When I actually read St Hildegard of Bingen, what I realised is that she not only opposed all forms of sex outside the productivity of children but also she opposed masturbation and lesbianism. And yet I was taught outright crap. Total and complete BS. Dedication to teaching means absolutely nothing if you aren’t willing to educate which most teachers these days are not because they want to craft academics into their image or use it for their political gain.
Faculty resources, financial resources, student selectivity, alumni giving, and graduate rate performance are all manners of quantity. Any good school will go out of its way to provide financial aid but only to the best and most deserving students. Student selectivity generally then comes down to that. Clearly, a university teaching the best cannot simply accept students that have not received the proper education. There’s a lot of Evangelical seminaries that teach bad theology predominantly because they don’t require backing in liberal studies first and foremost. Higher student selectivity and not necessarily opening arms to all students may actually indicate better universities. If financial resources come from the government, the school is probably just teaching whatever the government wants one to believe and it is involved in transforming the state into a totalitarian regime.
But alas, these are all quantity issues. They don’t give the story and yet these are the ways quality is judged. Being lazy is a matter of quality. Going to school and getting good grades is a matter of quantity.
I think we can stop confusing quality with quantity. This is why I refused to be satisfied with my undergraduate education and why I’m always reading something for fun. It is important to build in the pursuit of truth all of one’s life. Simply receiving the things that are dumped on you is a surrender of one’s own freedom.