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excelsior

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 02, 2008

In the current Weekly Standard, Joseph Epstein insists that today's college students aren't that much different from those of his own or any time, in the sense that most are career-minded and only "a very small number ... found passion for books and the life of the mind." The group that he did distinguish as an exception to the standard distribution is worthy of mention:

The most impressive students I had over my 30 years of university teaching were those I encountered when I first began, in the early 1970s, who almost all turned out to have been put through Catholic schools, during a time when priests and nuns still taught and Catholic education hadn't become indistinguishable from secular education. Many of these kids resented what they felt was the excessive constraint, with an element of fear added, of their education. Most failed to realize that it was this very constraint -- and maybe a touch of the fear, too -- that forced them to learn Latin, to acquire and understand grammar, to pick up the rudiments of arguing well, that had made them as smart as they were.

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 02, 2008 12:43 PM ET USA

    I had a chance to speak with Diana West, who wrote a terrific book called "The Death of the Grown Up." I asked her how the lack of a classical liberal education was impacting today's "adults." Although I can't quote her verbatim, she indicated that the inability of people to reason their way through a problem left them susceptible to any interpretation of "adulthood" or "morality," i.e., whole generations who can no longer tell right from wrong or good arguments from poor logic.

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