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College not a prerequisite for wisdom

Letter to the Editor | Monday, April 21, 2008

Although the blandness of Darryl Campbell’s columns generally make them easy to forget (or simply ignore), his most recent editorial (“The importance of college,” Apr. 14) deserves a brief response. With his usual “I graduated from Harvard” smugness, Campbell waxes (sans eloquence) on what is supposedly the chief benefit of a liberal arts education – namely, the fostering of wisdom in young minds. That is reasonable enough. Broad intellectual pursuits can have that effect. But Campbell goes a step further and implies that the “complete person,” while not created by the liberal arts curriculum, cannot be created without it either. This elitist stance treats the university and advanced education as the exclusive gateway to wisdom and naturally makes professors – and Campbell will surely be one someday – the gatekeepers. But even he admits that a liberal arts education can’t guarantee wisdom.I submit that if he would take an honest look around, Darryl Campbell would find the reason for this. A liberal arts education is not the only path to wisdom; sometimes it seems wisdom is achieved in spite of it. In fact, there are plenty in this world with a high school education, GED or no real education at all who are wise as well. An open mind, a good deal of common sense and a humble confession of ignorance when necessary do more for building wisdom than any curriculum a university can offer. I would venture to say that it is entirely possible that the person who serves Campbell his pizza at Sbarro or cleans out his library carrel is just as wise as any professor on this campus. Spend a little time beyond the ivory tower, Mr. Campbell; you’d be surprised at how wise the uneducated can be.

Stephen Morgangraduate studentoff campusApr. 18