Uses of a Liberal Education

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Both Mark Edmundson (“On the Uses of a Liberal Education”) and Gary Saul Morson (“Empathy with us”) see that college students have become lazy and seems to receive “an education worthy of the name.” Although both authors have some similarities in their ideas, they also have their own outlooks on what college students’ attitudes and practices show towards the liberal education.

Edmonson’s views on college students is that they are lazy and really only want to take the classes that are easy with teachers who don’t really care is the students learn anything. He explains about the time his own students were given the opportunity to evaluate him and he bolted for the door as if it were time for recess in elementary school. Why did he do this? Because, even if he knew that his evaluations were in the hands of his students, they would all say that he was “just fine”. He feels though, that his students deserve more, that his lectures and jokes weren’t taken to the level of depth he wished they would’ve. When Edmundson speaks about his previous student Joon Lee, he becomes saddened at the fact that most students he has now are more self-centered and only see the black and white aspect of things instead of the gray areas in-between. He has solid points when it comes to the fact that some students don’t seem to care about what they’re learning, as long as they get the grades they want. He definitely has a point about focusing more on school knowledge and less on sports and fraternities or sororities. Morson, on the other hand, agrees and also disagrees with Edmundson’s views.

Morson agrees that nowadays students are more involved with themselves, careers, and materialistic items than school. He points out that some students attribute their unwillingness to learn to being bored in class. The professors kill the interesting topic, a theory one student called “condescension”. This is when the teacher uses Shakespeare, Tolstoy, or Milton against the students’ values....
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