President Eliot, in an essay published in the Century of this month under the title of "What is a Liberal Education makes the statement: "The great majority of men in this country who belong to the intellectual professions are not liberally educated." Such a statement from such a source well deserves a thorough consideration. The cry "are our young men being educated for the work of the twentieth century or the seventeenth?" takes upon itself a new significance. It is no longer a question of whether Mr. Adams is right, but of the true meaning of a liberal education. There can, of course, be no question of the fact that there are many professional men in the country who have a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of their professions and are indisputably pre-eminent in their respective fields. But if the great majority of professional men, while possessing a thorough knowledge of the requirements of their professions and all that pertains to a comprehensive working of them, are not liberally educated, it is, indeed, time that a liberal education was defined and explained. It cannot be true that a college course, or any course of study which aims exclusively at making a man a good lawyer, physician or clergyman may be designated as liberal for the great majority of professional men who have prepared themselves thoroughly and conscientiously for professions. What then does President Eliot mean by his term of "liberal education?" Upon the proper definition of this expression then hangs the true meaning of a liberal education? It is at this idea of a liberal education that all the late agitation among scholars and students is aimed. To produce a change and provoke a revolution that will admit into our colleges and schools the proper curriculum for inculcating a liberal education is the sole purpose of the present lengthened discussion. Every advance in science and philology, every newly arising social or political requirement, every increase in commercial and industrial extension, in short, every new demand upon the energy and thought of educated men will only increase and broaden this idea of education. It is compulsory on us, the educated men of the succeeding generation, to prepare ourselves for life not by a training course of study invented to meet the requirements of the eleventh or the seventeenth century, but of the twentieth.
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May 06, 2017