Tonawanda News — It is not by chance that Shakespeare was with Nelson Mandela on Robbins Island and that a copy sat on Abraham Lincoln’s desk in the White House. Or that Winston Churchill urged on the movie production of Henry V during World War II. These plays have served as the school of leadership for centuries. Yet still, far too many graduates will have no more exposure to Shakespeare than the frantic skimming of SparkNotes the night before a ninth grade English test. In some cases, not even that.
The serious study of the liberal arts summons us to maturity. It is simply reckless when colleges don’t require such meaningful, fundamental courses.
Employers — another word popularized by the Bard — understand this. According to the Association of American Colleges & Universities, 80 percent of employers believe all college students should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences, regardless of major. Seven in 10 Americans agree that universities should require all students to take classes in core subjects like writing, math, science, economics, U.S. history, and foreign language
A graduate’s diploma must be more than a receipt for the tens of thousands of dollars spent on a college education. It must be indicative of a student who has been educated not only in his field of study, but in basic subjects that a college degree implies. Too many colleges snap up tuition checks and shuffle students through to graduation without instilling the core skills and knowledge the American people expect of a college graduate. That’s simply obscene and disgraceful.
Two more words for which you can thank the Bard.
Daniel Burnett is press secretary of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a higher education nonprofit group.Daniel Burnett is press secretary of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a higher education nonprofit group.