What Life and Higher Education Asks of Us

HT to Arlene Miller, retired nursing faculty at Messiah College (Grantham, PA) and co-author of two InterVarsity Press Books (Called to Care: A Christian Worldview for Nursing and Values in Conflict: Christian Nursing in a Changing Profession), who shared with me What Life Asks of Us.

What do I find of interest regarding David Brooks’ NY Times Op-Ed piece?  The individualism of modern culture reinforced by groups of professors, such as those at Harvard, who define the purpose of liberal education as

to unsettle presumptions, to defamiliarize the familiar, to reveal what is going on beneath and behind appearances, to disorient young people and to help them to find ways to reorient themselves.

I grew up in such a gifted subculture and in the end found myself asking the question who gives educators the right to define education in such a manner if the world revolves around me? Is not education in some form the call to serve with what we have learned from the past and carry into the future under a proper lens of understanding? In a similar manner David comments,

[T]o borrow an old phrase, we are not defined by what we ask of life. We are defined by what life asks of us. As we go through life, we travel through institutions — first family and school, then the institutions of a profession or a craft.

How would you define the purpose of liberal education?  Related Post:  Reaching “The End of Education?”

Postscript from Arlene:

I agree that institutions are not in and of themselves sacrosanct.  They can become corrupt and in need of reform.  What is needed is a larger story as you say by which to critique them.  But as often happens the glorification of change itself leads to throwing out traditions, and practices of the past just for the sake of doing something new.  Each individual becomes her or his own judge without consulting the wisdom of the past.

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Tom Grosh IV

Enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa, four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he hosts the Christian Scholar Series), on campus as part of InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministry (serving fellowships such as the Christian Medical Society/CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine), online as the Associate Director of the Emerging Scholars Network, in the culture at large, and in God's creation.

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