Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Values of American Higher Education

Today while visiting with some friends here in D.C., we were discussing the ideals of our country; equality under the Law, liberty, opportunity, individualism, etc...And in the process we were reminded of what made our country great and what values were most important. Education is the means of defining and refining those values.

Unfortunately, because of the environment of innovation created upon the heels of the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the World Wars, American education became pragmatically oriented. Aesthetic values have not, as a whole, been a value of higher education, nor has education been pursued for its own ends. Education has been pursued predominately for a pragmatic purpose, a job. Science has flourished in such an environment, but at what cost?

Science, while giving Americans a more "convenient life", is utilitarian in "outcome". While we benefit from science's innovations, we must not loose sight of the true purpose of education.

Higher education should develop and enlarge the "world" of the individual. Education, in this sense, creates a better citizen, in understanding most impthe most important values to that individual, and tolerance toward others with different values. Tolerance of difference is the atmosphere of academic freedom and the liberties that we value most as Americans. The values our country has affirmed must be protected and valued for the sake of "the greater good" and for "the greater world".

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