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Unclassical Education

Monday April 2008


Victor Davis Hanson Martin and Ilie Anderson Senior Fellow, Classics and Military History The Hoover Institution

Speaker: Victor Davis Hanson, Martin and Ilie Anderson Senior Fellow, Classics and Military History, The Hoover Institution
Introduction: James Piereson, President, William E. Simon Foundation

Much of the contemporary failure of the university—the rise of a therapeutic mindset, the spread of vocationalism, the ubiquity of political correctness, and the intrusion of popular culture into the curriculum—can be understood as a rejection of both traditional classical education and the values of the Greeks themselves.

The classical Greeks remind us of how a tragic appreciation of the human condition better prepares youth for the ordeals of their lives ahead. They also warn us against seeing education as the teaching of a particular skill rather than as a broad range of liberal arts, in the long term ensuring a better businessman, lawyer, or artisan. Truth, the Greeks believed, is far more important than sensitivity, and without honesty in expression in the university there is no such thing as a university. Higher education once entailed guidance from broadly educated mentors; it was not simply replication of movies, comics, and the television of popular culture, which can be studied without much help from anyone.

By reexamining the Greek legacy, Victor Davis Hanson will argue, we can understand what went wrong with American higher education—and what we might do to improve it.