How should colleges educate students? We have wandered a long way from what Michel de Montaigne thought should be the first principles of education.
For it seems to me that the first lessons in which we should steep his [the student’s] mind must be those that regulate his behavior and his sense, that will teach him to know himself and to die well and live well. Among the liberal arts, let us begin with the art that liberates us.
Montaigne did not mean “liberation” as the devotees of Paolo Freire’s pedagogy understand it. Montaigne wrote, “He who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave. Knowing how to die frees us from all subjection and constraint.” No education matters more.
Modern American colleges dedicate themselves instead to life without limits, and the cant progressive politics of our day. The mission statements sprawl, paragraph piled on paragraph. Bureaucrats and professors unable to edit themselves teach an object lesson in the fruits of indiscipline. “Virtue . . . is a state of character concerned with choice,” said the philosopher; and colleges unable even to choose one guiding institutional virtue educate their students to a similar incapacity to choose, to develop character, to live by virtue.
Of course, students miseducated in such a regime display little virtue in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. They have no knowledge of how to die well, or even that they should.
Today’s college students no longer know what it means to live or die well.https://t.co/xd3HUc2y8D
— First Things (@firstthingsmag) May 5, 2020