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Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters Hardcover – May 6, 2014

3.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Wesleyan University president Roth adds his voice to the current debate about college education. Is it vocational instruction meant to lead to immediate employment after graduation or a time for expansive ideas and self-exploration? He argues that liberal education, with its emphasis on critical thinking, is an important part of American ideals of democracy. He traces the historical roots of liberal education from the ancient Greeks through the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment. But he focuses on American thinkers, including Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. DuBois, William James, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jane Addams, John Dewey, and others. He examines the old debate about the usefulness and even democracy of a liberal education—whether it is aimed at the elite and is useless for the masses—as well as current threats from the government, from business, from political interests, and within the universities themselves. Roth argues that the utilitarians who push toward the practical will turn out graduates trained for “yesterday’s jobs” who have not learned the intellectual rigor and flexibility needed to adjust to whatever the future may bring. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"Illuminating...Between pragmatism and idealism, the author strikes a moderate, balanced approach."—Kirkus Reviews
(Kirkus Reviews)

"An elegant and informative survey of the work of important thinkers."—Inside Higher Ed
(Inside Higher Ed)

"An accessible, useful, intelligent book on a topic that concerns many of us in higher education and about which there has been much discussion of late."—Jeffrey Von Arx, America
(Jeffrey Von Arx America)

Winner of the 2016 Frederic W. Ness Book Award sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
(Frederick W. Ness Book Award Association of American Colleges and Universities 2016-01-22)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300175515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300175516
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #484,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very clear exposition of why liberal education matters with historical context that closely ties the answer to the evolution of the values of the U.S.A. A reader should be aware, however, that the book is incomplete. Michael Roth does not make it clear how the liberal education in today's institutions of higher education actually deliver the benefits of a liberal education, only that the objectives are worthwhile. Secondly, he does not answer the question of how to deliver these objectives at a price that the middle income, let alone broader society, can afford.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When so much of higher education is based on pragmatic purposes, such as getting a good paying job, we are reminded that higher education should if it is done right, prepare men and women for lifelong learning, curiosity about the world around them, and what it takes to be a responsible citizen in any culture, and particularly in a democratic society. Ideas do make a difference, and Michael Roth reminds us about how much we miss in education if we fail to see that, and simply prepare for careers, or maybe vocations that are determined by past generations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Into a world, it seems, where the economic utility of education is the sole standard by which it may be judged, enters a very timely counterpoint. Is reading (say) Voltaire, Thoreau, or Plato pure self-indulgence - only for a pampered elite? Are pressures, from parents, the business community, and politicians for more "useful" education worth resisting? Roth's book does not put the question to rest (in fact, he maintains it is a very old question), but is an inspirational contribution.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book is written by an incredible teacher and an even better human being. Professor Roth cares about what he writes and he makes others care, too. When I took his class, How to Change the World, it inspired me to really believe that I could contribute to a better world. Now, he hits the mark again, by making me believe that a liberal education really does matter. We need to understand our world, and all aspects of it, and Professor Roth gives valid reasons why a liberal education can help all of us to better connect with one another, and understand each other in a way that technology and science alone cannot deliver. Thank you, Dr. Roth, for being the amazing human being that you are.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If only we hadn't modified our education system to allow the lowest common (and I do mean "common") denominator to pass. Even at that, i fear that we have an uneducated populace. We have people coming out of high school who cannot even make a complete sentence, much less write one. Thomas Jefferson must be turning in his grave. This book is very well done and should be required reading for all those who select books, revise curriculae, and advise those who do. We have neglected to teach our children how to think. This is not about test taking to confirm what they have learned, but sabot learning how to reason.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Roth does a good job of charting the history of Liberal Education with quotes from an impressive number of male philosophers, educators, and Founding Fathers. He uses fewer quotes and references from female thinkers, and he lacks the graceful writing style of Mark Van Doren (1943). I was surprised that he did not cite Mark Van Doren's seminal book, LIBERAL EDUCATION. Consequently, I think Roth misses the mark for answering the question, "Why does Liberal Education matter?" Van Doran answers the question more aptly and convincingly. Roth has a good start on establishing the history of Liberal Education in the USA and surveys others' opinions, but another book needs to be written about "Why Liberal Education Matters."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Just excellent inspiring reading. Draws in the Educational aspect of our huge wonderful world. Roth makes you believe again in a grand idea of Progress. :)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Exceptional reading.
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