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Blog Watch: Wendell Berry cited on Political Discourse

Wendell Berry and Education

As early as his 1969 essay collection, The Long-Legged House, Berry expressed his doubts about formal education, writing:  “Although I have become, among other things, a teacher, I am skeptical of education. It seems to me a most doubtful process, and I think the good of it is taken too much for granted. It is a matter that is over-theorized and over-valued and always approached with too much confidence. It is . . . no substitute for experience or life or virtue or devotion. As it is handed out by the schools, it is only theoretically useful.”

In the early 1980s, Berry expressed a more radical displeasure in his HEHD essay. In it we glimpse many of the criticisms of higher education that he will continue to proclaim for the next three decades: 1) its main purpose is “career preparation,” preparing exploitive “careerists,” aiming to make more money; 2) this education “is dissociated from . . . [any] sense of obligation”; and 3) higher “educational institutions educate people to leave home,” in order to further their careers.

His essay also indicates what education should do: “Education in the true sense, of course, is an enablement to serve—both the living human community in its natural household or neighborhood and the precious cultural possessions that the living community inherits or should inherit.”

Read much more of this essay by Walter G. Moss at LA Progressive

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