A piece in The New Republic today is probably making former U of C president (and father of the Core and all that is "so U of C," tie-dye kid notwithstanding [not literally though]) Robert Maynard Hutchins roll around in his grave - but maybe, just maybe, out of joy.The author, John McWhorter, argues that students should be allowed to bust out of high school and into the real world a couple years before they are now (Hutchins started at Oberlin College when he was 16). Further, he says that college should be discouraged in favor of either not getting a degree that isn't really necessary or going into more technical-minded vocational training. The likely end result? Universities go back to being book-obsessed communes of robotic-claw libraries. Life of the mind!
In much less time than we take students' time up with now, they would be given a substantial but no-nonsense education tooled to preparing them to be productive citizens. This can be done without the pretense that any but a few Americans need to be plied with "book learning" for its own sake--as opposed to being taught how to think critically and having one's horizons extended, which is not the same thing--over several more years beyond this basic toolkit.(Granted, I'm not sure that Hutchins would appreciate the thought of book learning "plying" anyone or that that kind of education might be a "pretense," but hey, can't win them all.)