Wendell Berry writes that there is “a kind of knowledge, inestimably valuable and probably indispensable, that comes out of common culture and that cannot be taught as a part of the formal curriculum of a school.” The kind of knowledge he is referring to is a knowledge of values and relationships: for instance, what makes us trustworthy people. Berry goes on to say that “This is the kind of knowledge, obviously, that is fundamental to the possibility of community life and to certain good possibilities in the characters of people” and finally asserts that “I don’t believe it can be taught and learned in the university” (What Are People For? 119).
Recently, some friends and I were talking on Facebook about the structure and purpose of the modern university, and I happened to mention Berry’s beliefs, at the time to suggest that we expect of modern universities what they cannot do: namely, train us to be whole and holy people.
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