Far too often, we tend to disparage views expressed by “the other side” in almost any meaningful discussion of the challenging issues facing our country today.  We sometimes go to such extremes that we close our ears to reasoned comments coming from that other side.

That, of course, is “too bad” for our country —- and, it’s also unfortunate for educated individuals who consider themselves both informed and reasoned —- a self-defined reputation that sometimes morphs into delusion.

Anyway, for those readers who consider themselves progressives and are deeply concerned with the direction our higher education system is heading, I bring you Heather Wilson.

Wilson graduated from the United States Air Force Academy as a Distinguished Graduate (magna cum laude equivalent).  She was a United States Congresswoman (Republican from New Mexico) from 1997 to 2009.  She ran for, and was defeated, for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

In 2013, she became president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and served in that office until President Trump and Secretary of Defense Mattis asked her to be Secretary of the Air Force.  Congress confirmed her appointment last Spring.

Wilson’s views on higher education are worthy of support by both conservatives and progressives, as evidenced by remarks she made in a Washington Post OpEd a few years ago.  Here’s a sample:

“I have, however, become increasingly concerned in recent years — not about the talent of the applicants (for Rhodes Scholarships) but about the education American universities are providing.  Even from America’s great liberal arts colleges, transcripts reflect an undergraduate specialization that would have been unthinkably narrow just a generation ago.  (It is not unusual today for a “professional major” to include nearly half of the total number of hours required for graduation!)
As a result, high-achieving students seem less able to grapple with issues that require them to think across disciplines or reflect on difficult questions about what matters and why.
. . . Our great universities seem to have redefined what it means to be an exceptional student.  They are producing top students who have given very little thought to what matters beyond their impressive grasp of an intense area of study.
This narrowing has resulted in a curiously unprepared and superficial pre-professionalism.
. . . We are blessed to live in a country that values education.  Many of our young people spend four years getting very expensive college degrees.  But our universities fail them and the nation if they continue to graduate students with expertise in biochemistry, mathematics or history without teaching them to think about what problems are important and why.”


All of us should be alarmed by this recent emphasis the universities are placing on a narrow skills training curricula at the expense of a more robust education.

“Practical utility, however, is not the ultimate purpose of a liberal arts education. Its ultimate purpose is to help you learn to reflect in the widest and deepest sense, beyond the requirements of work and career: for the sake of citizenship, for the sake of living well with others, above all, for the sake of building a self that is strong and creative and free.” (William Deresiewicz)

 History is written by individuals who were informed, pondered, explored and led when either circumstances or education liberated their imaginations and creative talents.  All of us (progressives and conservatives) need to acknowledge “the connectedness of our world.”

More on Monday  –  – 

    — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

   February 28, 2018  (Mondays & Wednesdays)


 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)