A recent article in the NY Times "Revisiting the Canon Wars" (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/16/books/review/Donadio-t.html) took a 20 year retrospective look at the controversy over Alan Bloom’s book "The Closing of the American Mind". Bloom argued that American universities had been "dumbed down" by abandoning the classical Western canon.
Lots to argue about here, and the article gives a taste of the argument. However, I was most struck by the way the article ended:
Bloom believed education should be transformative… that it should provide a student with “four years of freedom”
— “a space between the intellectual wasteland he has left behind and
the inevitable dreary professional training that awaits him after the
baccalaureate.” Whether students today see college as a time of freedom
or a compulsory phase of credentialing is an open question. From
Bloom’s perspective, “the importance of these years for an American
cannot be overestimated. They are civilization’s only chance to get to
Wow, that was bracing and brutal! I’m curious what others think about it.