-- Changes in society and its educational aspect over the past half century are
profound, raising a fundamental concern about individual adaptability.
When the current influence of special interests in commerce
and politics is all pervasive and relentless, there is a compelling reason to
question how our schools serve the younger members of society; specifically, are
the latter receiving adequate instruction about the merit of logical reasoning
which can help to distinguish between experts and charlatans?
Without such a large-scale capability, the long-term
prospects for a well-balanced society are dim. There is a general consensus, expressed
by much oral and written means, that the priorities and objectives of the school
system warrant attention.
However, cooperation and a like-minded purpose on the
part of educators, administrators and legislators is a prerequisite for any real
accomplishment in this regard and appears far from assured.
The present day institutions of higher learning resemble
corporate organizations, with outsized administrative ranks and an orientation
toward external audiences.
Few university presidents manifest an educator's version
of their role and most are overly concerned with fund raising, part of which is
tied to athletic rather than academic programs.
It is seldom that college presidents cite the importance
of including a historical context in education, so that contemporary achievements
can be viewed in a wider perspective.
College presidents should encourage undergraduates to
avoid narrow specialization and persuade their parents that broader study programs
before graduation facilitate eventual job transitions.
With a rising tide of highly technical literature, how
are students made aware of a communication skill which, in their own future role
as an author or speaker, will provide readers or listeners a better chance to
grasp the sense, at least, of the argument?
Both style and substance are significant and schools
are the place for bringing out this fact.
Professor Levine is professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University.]
Letter to the Editor
©2001 Clovis Free Press. All rights reserved.