A human touch in higher education

“A good humanities education is the key to finding out who you are,” according to Mark Edmundson.
“A good humanities education is the key to finding out who you are,” according to Mark Edmundson.

With an ever-increasing focus on job readiness in college classrooms, author Mark Edmundson sometimes seems like higher education’s firebrand moral preacher — goading faculty and administrators to repent and embrace their traditional values.
But his latest book, “Why Teach? In Defense of a Real Education,” is a distinctly practical argument for what is often thought of as an idealist, impractical approach to education.

“There’s a lot of pressure on students to approach college from a pre-professional standpoint, but I think that’s a mistake, especially for young people,” says Edmundson  from his office at the University of Virginia. “You’ve gone through high school and a lot of people have told you who you are — teachers, guidance counselors, parents. And maybe you are that person, and that destiny is right for you. But it’s possible you’re not. Perhaps what you really want to do with your life is something your parents and teachers could have never anticipated, and you yourself have no idea about it either. … A good humanities education is key to discovering who you are.”

If there’s anything a good old-fashioned liberal arts education instills, it’s skepticism. And Edmundson encourages students to embrace an extremely skeptical view of schools and programs that focus on workplace preparedness.

“I think it’s only natural for American business people to want universities to be a feeder for the workplace ­— to create really good and responsive workers. But I don’t think that’s the primary purpose of education,” he says. “My students may still go off and work [in business] and that might be a good thing for them, but I want them to think in a critical way about what it means to be a success in business or academia or any other field.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Borough prez Eric Adams defends Brooklyn's honor after…

"F--k Brooklyn," shouted Toronto Raptors' general manager Masai Ujiri shortly before facing the Brooklyn Nets at Saturday's playoff game.

Local

Annual Green Festival to take root in NYC

With the arrival of Earth Week, some 200 local participating companies, vendors and nonprofits are gearing up for New York City's annual Green Festival, set…

Local

10 green ideas for New York City this…

This Earth Day, pundits share their ideas to better green New York City.

Local

Carriage horse activists picket Liam Neeson's UWS home

Several dozen picketers lined the sidewalk outside of Liam Neeson's Upper West Side apartment building on Saturday to protest the actor's support of the New…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Books

Poems from prison: 'How to Survive a Bullet…

Celebrate National Poetry Month with, "'How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.