Here’s a chilling news item: Some colleges, fearing irrelevance and strapped for cash are thinking about eliminating some liberal arts programs. None of that seems right around the corner because colleges can’t just up and do something. They have to form exploratory committees for everything from their statement of purpose to the size of the type in their press releases that no one reads. Exploratory committees. Where ideas go to overcomplicate and die.
Any committee with more than three members is flypaper.
But here’s what’s happening: some colleges and universities want to convert into what amounts to trade schools. It’s perfectly okay to teach practical stuff. But when you take away majors like English, History, Art and such, you produce single minded drones who can’t put their “trade” into the kind of context needed for ordinary life on earth.
If you want to learn auto body work, accounting, engineering, etc., there are plenty of good places. While some are better than others and some are really nothing more than pigs at the funding trough, many are still pretty good.
MIT and Caltech are much more practically oriented than Sandwich State University of Pocatello which doesn’t have even a single course in potato genetics. But you’ll still leave the big tech schools with at least a smattering of literature, history, economics, sociology and business. Maybe even philosophy.
There exists a secret society. It is so secret, many of the members don’t know who else is in it. Its job is to dumb us down. It is composed of influential members of the academic, corporate, media, video game and multilevel marketing industries. It’s an Unthink tank.
Among its founding principles:
--Lies are the new truth.
--Truth is of the moment. What’s true today may not be true tomorrow.
--Opposites are not opposite.
--Teach George Orwell.
It’s part of an effort to make each of us so preoccupied with the next month’s rent and tomorrow’s dinner that we don’t do anything else.
It’s not an active conspiracy. It is a bunch of like-minded and well-heeled people working for the same goal at the same time. It’s similar to the humorist Roger Price’s question “What would happen if all the samba dancers in the world threw their hips in the same direction at the same moment?” Would that throw the world off its axis?
To the schools that want to abandon liberal arts: Please don’t eliminate majors that stretch the mind and give us context. Don’t bury our past in a sea of how-to courses. Instead, continue to support the idea that not every major has to have an immediate marketable result. To feed our families, to pay the rent, we need to know more than how to feed our families and pay the rent.
I’ve called all this turning us all into farm animals. Now, I’m calling it “The Ignorance Project.”
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2019