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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Mailbag: Jan. 14

Zing!: Lecturer responds to editorial, errors

I read today (Jan. 13), with great interest, your response to my Arizona Daily Star guest commentary (See Arizona Daily Star, Guest Opinion, Dec. 12, 2009). In your response you state that, “”The largest purpose of the university education is to provide the skills to have a job in the real world.”” You also claim that Eller grads will have better job prospects than College of Humanities grads. Because of this, the Wildcat feels the differential cuts to the units are justified.

Fair enough. Yes, all of us who are not independently wealthy have to work. I get it. I have been working since I was 13 years old.

And we will have to agree to disagree. We disagree about what should define the “”core”” or central purpose of higher education. I see the purpose of a university education as one that trains students to think, problem-solve, become active citizens and, when necessary, to criticize large institutions like corporations rather than merely “”fitting into”” them. One difference between a university and tech school is that a university prepares people to lead. In fact, most CEOs of large corporations and political leaders have humanities degrees and liberal arts backgrounds in addition to business or professional training.

From Thomas Friedman’s “”The World is Flat”” to Daniel Pink’s “”A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future,”” influential thinkers (both business and academic) claim that universities have to sidestep the temptation to shortcut student education by preparing merely for “”jobs”” that may or may not exist as economies and technologies change. Friedman writes that “”encouraging young people early to think (my emphasis) horizontally and to connect disparate dots has to be a priority, because this is where and how so much innovation happens. And first you need the dots to connect. And that means a liberal arts education.”” My argument advocated an education consisting of both the humanities and practical specialization, with one not benefitting at the underfunding of the other. I would guess, given that you are students, that you would demand this rather than knuckle under and agree to a watered-down education. Consider what you may be giving up.

The humanities invite students not merely to learn content, but to ask questions such as “”Why?”” “”Is this in our (common good) long-term best interest?”” and “”What are the implications of our actions?”” If such questions had been asked more and louder of the business leaders and policy makers that got us into this current financial crisis, financial cleverness and short-term, house-of-cards derivatives might have taken a backseat to real fiscal planning.

By the way, you misspelled my name and misidentified my position. But, hey, you all have a job, so why bother with close-reading, accuracy or fact check?

On with the discussion,

Erec Toso

Senior Lecturer

Writing Program Faculty

Department of English

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