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Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life Paperback – September 23, 2008
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About the Author
Anthony T. Kronman is Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School. Since stepping down as Dean of the Law School in 2004, he has been teaching in the Directed Studies Program at Yale and devoting himself to the humanities.
Top Customer Reviews
Yet, as a side note I find it striking that no mention of St. John's College in Sante Fe and Anapolis was made in the book. The "great books" programs at Yale, Columbia, etc simply cannot begin to compare with that of St. John's College. This omission is difficult to reconcile considering that the author sees the "great books" tradition and its secular humanism as the best way out of the current education crisis, and, quite simply, no other college or university better represents secular humanism than St. John's.
Education's End by Anthony Kronman, former Dean of Yale Law School, is an excellent analysis--I highly recommend it--of a critical issue that affects the framework of American society. A thoughtfully planned and carefully balanced argument about the role of the humanities in education, Education's End exposes the current shortcomings in higher education. For Kronman, the big rocks--the things of value--in education are the questions: What is the meaning of life? How should we spend our time? How can we succeed in the art of living? For much of our history U.S. education included the big rocks; they were part of a college education. Today, this is no longer true.
Kronman reviews what he believes to be an unfortunate path traveled by higher education in the U.S., breaking down the regrettable history into three eras. First, during the antebellum era beginning with the opening of Harvard University, there was a focus on God, a Christian perspective, and an emphasis on "the ancient model of virtue and order.Read more ›
He approaches the issue historically, studying the antebellum approach in which colleges were predominantly religious in their orientation. Their task was to educate Christian gentlemen and they did it through the study of the classics, through the study of theology and through the instilling of personal discipline.
The doctrinal, character-centered approach was succeeded by what he terms (in the humanities) secular humanism: the study of great writers and great texts which did, indeed, confront such questions as the meaning of life. The approach was less one of indoctrination than the introduction to thousands of years of reflection on weighty issues, reflection which was not internally consistent or absolutist but rather pluralist and, in its totality, wise. This approach exists in very limited form now in such programs as Yale's Directed Studies program, which enrolls 120 students (who apply to pursue it).
Secular humanism was displaced by the politicization of the 60's, aided and abetted by the `research ideal' in which depth replaced breadth, incremental learning replaced grand syntheses and correction/replacement became the goal rather than absorption/internalization/preservation.
One way of thinking about this is to say that `the preservation of culture' (a longstanding ideal, e.g.Read more ›
Kronman's central arguments are insightful and persuasive but some of his supporting arguments are overly simplistic. A minor point is that he states that nineteenth century German universities were first and most influential in promoting research as an academic ideal. In fact, academic specialization began in Scotland when the regenting system was abandoned at the University of Edinburgh in 1707 and at the University of Glasgow in 1727. Some of the chairs at Glasgow supporting specialization and the dates of their establishment were: mathematics (1691); botany and anatomy (1704); and medicine (1713). The discipline of chemistry flourished in Scotland during the second half of the eighteenth century.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Meaning. Authenticity. Mission. Purpose. Values. What is the meaning of life? This is a huge question. It is a question we all need to ask and answer. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Reid Mccormick
Well-researched and eye-opening. Arrived in perfect condition, too.Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
The basic intuition and argument are sound, but the book is repetitive and more sanctimonious than analytical. It would have benefitted from a stronger editor.Published on August 20, 2014 by Prof. Thomas Pfau
I struggled a bit whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. I think it should be somewhere in the middle, but closer to 4 stars because the message is important and deserves to be... Read morePublished on November 30, 2012 by Bobby Bambino
This was a worthy read (especially the last chapter, "Spirit in an Age of Science," but I feel it was essentially an essay that got out of control. Kronman needed an editor. Read morePublished on July 25, 2010 by Caraculiambro
Everyone talks about nihilism, but no one does anything about it.
Kronman divides the history of the American university into three periods:
1. Read more
Kronman writes a compelling argument as to why college humanities and traditional liberal arts programs should provide the necessary spiritual and moral direction for our maturing... Read morePublished on April 1, 2009 by F Lee. Cosgrove
I picked this up at the library because of the interesting cover. Its small size indicated an easy read, though glancing at the table of contents I suspected I would not like the... Read morePublished on November 27, 2008 by seeker