In the Chronicle
, Jeff Anderson, dean of humanities, fine arts, and social sciences at Illinois Valley Community College, argues for the many benefits of great books courses
, even for community college students.
Dr. Anderson asserts that community colleges, which many are seeing as vocational schools, should build curricula around a series of classical texts. As opposed to completing degrees by checking off boxes on a list of siloed courses, students embark upon an interdisciplinary curriculum based on the Great Conversations.
Future employers can tell educated students from a credentialed ones. According to Dr. Anderson:
"Norm Augustine, retired chief executive of Lockheed Martin, and A.G. Lafley, former chairman of Procter & Gamble, have recently argued that businesses would benefit from hiring graduates with the kind of liberal education that a curriculum centered around great books fosters. And companies such as ConAgra are hiring graduates who majored in the liberal arts precisely because they possess broader sets of skills than those trained in a particular specialty."
Keeping higher education from becoming full-fledged vocational training is not easy, but the fight is still worth pursuing. Students become jaded when they leave school and realize that all they have is a fancy piece of paper and a student loan bill.