Hal’s Class Performance and Francis’s Service Learning: 1 Henry IV 2.4 as Parable of Contemporary Higher Education
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Despite claims of fostering social mobility, four-year colleges and universities often further entrench the socioeconomic gaps they seek to bridge. This essay, analogizing Prince Hal as the privileged “traditional student” and the tapster Francis as the “new traditional student,” critiques both the efficacy and utility of liberal education. The interaction between Hal and Francis also illustrates that schools must first, recognize and second, adapt to the particular needs of the nontraditional students who increasingly make up the postsecondary population. The essay advocates prioritizing community college for most low-income first-generation students and reducing liberal arts and/or general education requirements elsewhere to better serve the needs of young people seeking employment in a “skilled services” economy.