Saturday, April 27, 2013

Donald Kagan Retires

Donald Kagan, one of the country's most prominent classicists and author of one of the most popular Western Civilization textbooks used in History departments (see The Western Heritage), recently retired from Yale University.  In his "farewell lecture", as reported in the Wall Street Journal, he identified some important problems in higher education and in the Western world more generally.   For example: 
Universities, he proposed, are failing students and hurting American democracy. Curricula are "individualized, unfocused and scattered." On campus, he said, "I find a kind of cultural void, an ignorance of the past, a sense of rootlessness and aimlessness." Rare are "faculty with atypical views," he charged. "Still rarer is an informed understanding of the traditions and institutions of our Western civilization and of our country and an appreciation of their special qualities and values." He counseled schools to adopt "a common core of studies" in the history, literature and philosophy "of our culture." By "our" he means Western.

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