Saturday, November 03, 2007

Piereson, James. “'The Closing of the American Mind' at 20." NEW CRITERION November 2007.

It has now been twenty years since the late Allan Bloom published The Closing of the American Mind, his bestselling broadside against the ideas and conceptions that animate the contemporary university. The general theme of Bloom’s book is encapsulated in the subtitle: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students. Bloom’s thesis was striking precisely because it ran against the grain of conventional commentary on the academy. Following the upheavals of the 1960s, educators prided themselves on the degree to which they had reformed the American university in the direction of democracy, equality, and openness. They sought, as they said, to create an academic environment in which students might explore various ways of thinking and living in order to find their authentic selves. Those academic leaders were convinced that they had served democracy and enriched the educational experience of students by all the reforms—curricular and non-curricular—that they had engineered in response to the student revolts of that era. Now here was Bloom bluntly saying that they had actually done something quite the reverse: in the quest for “openness” and democracy, the academics had closed off genuine thought and intellectual exploration, and in so doing had compromised the case for democratic institutions. . . . Read the rest here:

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