Teaching a Philosophy of Life

Today's snippet comes from a student's paper defending the value of his liberal arts major. One of the questions I posed this semester, while reading Academically Adrift and Not For Profit was whether Universities' missions included teaching values, or whether teaching values was the province of other social/cultural institutions (family/church). For the most part, my students resisted discussing this question. But one student took up the question in his paper, and noted how research points to a decline among students in prioritizing values; he cites a 2000 study by Pace and Connolly ("Where are the Liberal Arts?"):

In 1966 the percent of students saying that ‘developing a meaningful philosophy of life’ was an essential or very important goal was 80%, but in 1996 it was down to 42%. The materialist goal of ‘being well off financially’ was regarded as essential or very important by 45% in 1966, but in 1996 it was up to 74%” (Pace 54)

I'm looking forward to reading the whole article because I am especially interested in the parameters of those numbers. Of course, the social demographics of college enrollment have transformed significantly since 1966, especially in light of Vietnam spikes in enrollment. And our economy has transformed as well, such that now there are fewer career options available to those without college education.

1 comment:

Eric said...

http://www.aacu.org/liberaleducation/index.cfm Liberal Education | Current Issue: President’s Message
Civic Learning in College: Our Best Investment in the Future of Our Democracy By Carol Geary Schneider
General education has long been regarded as part of American higher education’s responsibility to the success of our democracy. Throughout the twentieth century, the rationale for general education was that higher education educates citizens, and educated citizens need a rich understanding of the larger context in which they live, work, and contribute. Unhappily, many college students get no such thing.