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Republicans Are Right, College Matters

This week, it’s my pleasure to post a thoughtful essay by Susan Engel, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Williams College. Engel responds to a surprising trend in the United States: a majority of surveyed Republicans now believe that higher education operates against our national interest. In a brief accompanying comment, I attempt to capture the […]

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How Do Future Students Get a Whiff of College? A Century-Long Perspective

When few students pursued higher learning, the decision to attend college was based chiefly on family background and geographical propinquity. In the last century, however, attendance at college and university has become much more frequent—at least half of American secondary school graduates eventually pursue some kind of higher learning. Not all students have choices about […]

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The End of Final Clubs

As a member of the Harvard faculty, I’ve been asked for my opinion about the recommendation to phase out the College’s “final clubs” over the next few years. On a theoretical or philosophical level, there are justifiable arguments on both sides. Those in favor of maintaining such organizations invoke freedom of assembly. Those in favor […]

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Arts and Sciences: A Panoramic Guide for the Perplexed

In my previous blog post, I wrote about the liberal arts and sciences. In describing the “philosophical chamber” of Harvard College in the 18th century, I suggested that at one time, knowledge was more fluid; both students and scholars moved easily among philosophy, natural science, history, music and other “subjects.” Indeed, they may not have […]

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The Re-Uniting of the Arts and Sciences: Clues from an Exhibition

Around the university, and perhaps elsewhere, the phrase “arts and sciences” is familiar. It evokes diverse associations: positive ones (what all educated persons should master); negative ones (teachers and courses that are believed not to be useful for careers or for life); or confusion (even at schools that describe themselves using those words, most students […]

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