Interpretation of Mark Edmundson's Essay

Topics: University, Education, History of education Pages: 3 (1006 words) Published: March 22, 2007
It seems that in this day and age the college curriculum does not only put emphasis on the giving and receiving of facts and information, but is inevitably being pushed in the direction of student entertainment. Subjects such as literature, philosophy, and history are not as popular as they once were, and are in danger of becoming extinct in the academic world. Mark Edmundson's essay, "The Uses of a Liberal Education", provides many interesting and valid points on why the liberal arts field is becoming devalued in the education system.

According to Edmundson, the origin of devaluation in the liberal art's program can be traced to consumerism. The idea of consumerism, to be put simply, is to get more bang for your buck. Colleges are the most competitive institutions in the world. How do college campuses attract the richest, smartest, most athletic students? Campuses erect extravagant buildings with the most high-tech equipment to attract the potential student. "Before they arrive, we ply the students with luscious ads, guaranteeing them a cross between summer camp and lotus land" (Edmundson 46). When colleges send out pamphlets and packets about their institution, most of the pictures are of non-academic things, such as, the school's amazingly expensive gymnasium, or their two million dollar swimming pool. The idea of education and learning gets lost in the translation when trying to recruit new students. Given a choice of showing potential students pictures of campus over a sheet of information on classes, chances are that aesthetics of the campus will win their attention hands down. This is an example of a true consumerist attitude.

Students, also known as consumers, strive for an entertainment value before exercising their brains in a classroom. This is why professors are feeling the pressure to be more entertaining with their lesson plans and lectures. Which is the lesser evil, entertaining and keeping the classroom full or sticking to a...
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