William J. Bennett (1943–) from “To Reclaim a Legacy,” American Education (1985)
Although more than 50 percent of America’s high school graduates continue their education at American colleges and universities, few of them can be said to receive there an adequate education in the culture and civilization of which they are members. Most of our college graduates remain shortchanged in the humanities—history, literature, philosophy, and the ideals and practices of the past that have shaped the society they enter. The fault lies principally with those of us whose business it is to educate these students. We have blamed others, but the responsibility is ours. Not by our words but by our actions, by our indifference, and by our intellectual diffidence, we have brought about this condition. It is we the educators—not scientists, business people, or the general public—who too often have given up the great task of transmitting a culture to its rightful heirs. Thus, what we have on many of our campuses is an unclaimed legacy, a course of studies in which the humanities have been siphoned off, diluted, or so adulterated that students graduate knowing little of their heritage.
KeywordsWestern Civilization College Curriculum Common Culture National Endowment Common Curriculum
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