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Patrick Keeney: Don't turn universities into trade schools

August 18, 2011

Dr. Patrick Keeney, adjunct professor in the Faculty of Education at SFU, asks, "Is the university an educational institution or a vocational one?" in his article for the National Post.

"As a society, we need to be vigilant in defending the ideal of a liberal education. This ideal goes back to the Greeks, who believed that a liberal education is the most appropriate kind of preparation for freeborn citizens. The basic premise holds that education consists of developing the mind through humane learning, and that all educational activities should be subordinate to that end. Various writers have defined this ideal, but Leo Strauss pithily captures its essence: 'Reading with care what the best minds had to say about the most important questions.'

There will always be debates about what those questions are, and who is best positioned to speak on them. But the overarching aim of a liberal education was never in doubt: free citizens need to develop their minds — as opposed to simply acquiring marketable skills — to achieve lives that are rich, meaningful and rewarding."

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