The American Council of Trustees and Alumni has recently released two reports, Protecting the Free Exchange of Ideas and What Will They Learn? The former identifies concrete measures recommended by ACTA and taken by 40 universities to ensure that students are learning how to think and not what to think. The latter demonstrates that our institutions of higher education are doing a poor job preparing the next generation for citizenship and the global marketplace. It also explains why a core curriculum is so important, what a good core curriculum should include, and why so many of our universities are deficient in this regard. The following quote from former Harvard College Dean Harry R. Lewis cuts to the heart of the issue: “At its best, general education is about the unity of knowledge, not about distributed knowledge. Not about spreading courses around, but about making connections between different ideas. Not about the freedom to combine random ingredients, but about joining an ancient lineage of the learned and wise. And it has a goal, too: producing an enlightened, self-reliant citizenry, pluralistic and diverse but united by democratic values.” In a closely related effort, I am proud to be part of a movement in Texas called the Coalition of American Traditions and Ethics, which is strongly advocating for core content in Western Civilization and American traditions in state supported colleges and universities, and I am pleased that we have been successful in the approval of an interim study of the issue by the Higher Education Committee of the Texas House of Representatives. I believe that the future of our country may very well depend on the restoration of the core liberal education, and it will almost certainly be necessary for the revival of conservatism, properly understood as classical liberalism. Stay tuned.
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