We’ve touched on this topic before but, unfortunately, the movement is growing.  And it’s becoming scary as our nation is beginning to lose sight of the traditional intent of a university education and, instead, perverting that purpose toward a job-skills bent.

Don’t get me wrong.  Community Colleges already exist for just such a reason and I strongly applaud them.  But, I am interested in the universities that provide majors that introduce our young people to the great ideas, artists, inventors, scientists, mathematicians, writers and philosophers of the world.

So, it was with pointed interest that I read an article last week in the New York Times (“Aristotle’s Wrongful Death” by by Frank Bruni) that discusses the subject objectively.  Here are some excerpts:

“.  .  . Illinois is pairing certain majors in the liberal arts — for example, anthropology and linguistics — with computer science. Assumption is doing away with a host of traditional majors in favor of new ones geared to practical skills. Goodbye, art history, geography and, yes, classics. Hello, data analytics, actuarial science and concentrations in physical and occupational therapy.

Assumption is hardly an outlier. Last year the University of Wisconsin at Superior announced that it was suspending nine majors, including sociology and political science, and warned that there might be additional cuts. The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point recently proposed dropping 13 majors, including philosophy and English, to make room for programs with “clear career pathways.”

While these schools are swapping out certain majors for others, some higher education leaders are asking whether such devotion to a single field of study — and whether a college experience structured around that — are the right way to go.

.  .  . I worry that there’s a false promise being made. The world now changes at warp speed. Colleges move glacially. By the time they’ve assembled a new cluster of practical concentrations, an even newer cluster may be called for, and a set of job-specific skills picked up today may be obsolete less than a decade down the road. The idea of college as instantaneously responsive to employers’ evolving needs is a bit of a fantasy.

Eric Johnson, an education policy analyst in Chapel Hill, N.C., agrees that majors may well be “a poor way of organizing career preparation.”
“But that’s because college is a poor way of organizing career preparation,” he told me. “Deep, discipline-focused learning is simply a different goal than being adequately skilled to serve mercurial employers.”

.  .  . “Becoming versed in the intricacies of a complex thing is itself a worthwhile skill,” Johnson said. I agree. It also underscores what real knowledge and true perspective are. In a country that’s awash in faux expertise and enamored of pretenders, that’s no small thing.
Students interested in using their education for expressly vocational purposes should have an array of attractive options in addition to college, which isn’t right for everyone and is hardly the lone path to professional fulfillment. Some of those options should be collaborations with employers grooming the work force they need.

But students who want to commune with Kant and Keats shouldn’t be made to feel that they’re indulgent dilettantes throwing away all hope of a lucrative livelihood. They’re making a commitment to a major that has endured because its fruits are enduring.”

While leading ITC for some twenty years, here are the background facts of the dozens we hired in the two areas that propelled ITC to significant growth:  a) Officers had all been liberal arts majors except for two that had no college experience and two that had majored in a specific aspect of business; b) the vast majority of Instructional Designers had been education majors, most of whom had prior experience teaching in elementary schools.

We wanted individuals who had broad backgrounds in thinking laterally in order to solve the challenges we knew would be encountered as we grew.  A liberal education meets that need.  We also wanted Instructional Designers who were used to adapting to the many challenges one faces in an elementary classroom.

Worked for us.  Maybe not for every organization.  But, lateral thinking is an excellent criterion for hiring unless one is performing the same task, with the same challenges, on a routine basis.

The dangerous decision these aforementioned universities are taking should be derailed before others join the movement because it will adversely effect the lives of the next generation of employees, not to mention the organizations that hire them.

As Chas Gillespie wrote in “One Case Against Removing The Liberal Arts From Universities,” THOUGHT CATALOG:

“.  .  . humanities classes justify themselves by teaching things and asking questions that STEM classes do not teach or ask. What is a just society? How ought we act toward one another? What is the nature of knowledge, and what are its limits? What uses of technology are inappropriate? What values and hierarchies of power are encoded in everyday activities, and what should we do about it? What is good writing?”

More on Monday  –  –  –

  — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

                      June 6, 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.)