June 26, 1997 | Commentary on Education
Are you sick and tired of hearing the latest dreary pronouncement from some brain-dead "scholar" to the effect say, that Shakespeare or Plato or Dante were really just part of a long line of "dead white males" mainly concerned with perpetuating the "male power structure"?
Do you look at television, the computer, and plummeting achievement test scores and wonder whether real learning survives anywhere? Or whether there still are schools -- or even special programs or professors within schools -- from whom your son or daughter still can learn to think clearly? Is there still a college or university in America where one can gain a healthy veneration for the intellectual tradition that created our civilization?
Take heart: As a matter of fact, there is. A remnant has, indeed, survived the ideological assault on learning that has swept our nation. Not only that, but someone has put together a fascinating listing of this remnant.
Recently, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), a non-profit educational group, joined forces with Sir John Templeton, one of the world's leading investors and philanthropists, to produce The Templeton Honor Rolls for Education in a Free Society.
The Honor Rolls, a series of awards given recently at a gala presentation in Washington, D.C., has been compiled into an attractive volume that lists and describes which colleges and universities, special programs, professors and books still adhere to a traditional standard of academic excellence, and pay proper homage to the classics of Western literature, history and philosophy.
The volume is designed to help parents find their way past the slick advertising of "top" schools that have abandoned excellence to the gold of traditional learning that is hidden away in unexpected places. "It is our hope," say the program's organizers, "that parents will vote with their checkbooks for the education that prepares young people for lives as productive and educated citizens," not as politically indoctrinated automatons.
"Race, ethnicity and gender have replaced Aristotle, Shakespeare and Dante as the core curriculum at many of America's colleges and Universities," said former U.S. Treasury Secretary William E. Simon in announcing the Honor Rolls winners. "By recognizing those scholars and institutions that favor genius over agenda, we can strike a blow for excellence."
Indeed we can. After reading through the Honor Rolls volume (which you can obtain by calling ISI at 1-800-526-7022), I now realize what a milestone this is: It's nothing less than ammunition for the culture wars.
Most parents are heart-sick over what they hear about higher education these days -- but they don't know what to do about it. Usually, they send their teenagers off to whatever schools seem best, hoping their loved ones come away with something worthwhile. Many times, they are disappointed.
Now, parents can fight back. They can use The Templeton Honor Rolls to tell the good guys from the bad.
Do you know about St. John's College, with campuses in Annapolis, Md., and Santa Fe, N.M., where all students master the great books of Western civilization, from Homer to Einstein? Do you know about Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., which produces some of the best political and economic minds in America? Did you know that the core curriculum of the University of Dallas includes 12 credit hours of philosophy, 12 of English, as well as required courses in theology, politics, economics, history, fine arts and American history? That's just a taste of the ammunition you'll find in The Templeton Honor Rolls.
So, start fighting the war for our culture. Here is a handy description of the schools and professors who still know what learning's all about.
And stop helping the sneering ideologues of political correctness.* * *
June 26, 1997