In this short and powerful book, celebrated philosopher Martha Nussbaum makes a passionate case for the importance of the liberal arts at all levels of education.
Historically, the humanities have been central to education because they have rightly been seen as essential for creating competent democratic citizens. But recently, Nussbaum argues, thinking about the aims of education has gone disturbingly awry both in the United States and abroad. Anxiously focused on national economic growth, we increasingly treat education as though its primary goal were to teach students to be economically productive rather than to think critically and become knowledgeable and empathetic citizens. This shortsighted focus on profitable skills has eroded our ability to criticize authority, reduced our sympathy with the marginalized and different, and damaged our competence to deal with complex global problems. And the loss of these basic capacities jeopardizes the health of democracies and the hope of a decent world.
In response to this dire situation, Nussbaum argues that we must resist efforts to reduce education to a tool of the gross national product. Rather, we must work to reconnect education to the humanities in order to give students the capacity to be true democratic citizens of their countries and the world.
Drawing on the stories of troubling--and hopeful--educational developments from around the world, Nussbaum offers a manifesto that should be a rallying cry for anyone who cares about the deepest purposes of education.
"Nussbaum makes a persuasive case."--New Yorker
"Nussbaum . . . brings to this perennial [education] debate an impassioned urgency . . . and broad erudition. . . . Nussbaum's defense of this worthy cause is deeply learned."--Mick Sussman, New York Times Book Review
"Moving deftly between analysis and and polemic, the author draws on education practices in India, experimental psychology, the works of such liberal education proponents as Dewey and Tagore to emphasize the importance of critical pedagogy for the development of individual responsibility, innovation, and self-examination. . . . [I]n advocating educational curriculums that recognize the worth of personal development and creative thought, this slim book is itself a small but decisive step in the effort to broaden and enrich current pedagogical practices."--Publishers Weekly
"For Nussbaum, human development means the development of the capacity to transcend the local prejudices of one's immediate (even national) context and become a responsible citizen of the world."--Stanley Fish, New York Times Opinionator Blog
"A comprehensive look at today's worldwide marketplace for college students."--Michael Alison Chandler, Washington Post
"This is a passionate call to action at a time when the nation is becoming more culturally diverse and universities are cutting back on humanities programs."--Vanessa Bush, Booklist
"Against the commercialisation of the academy, [Nussbaum] poses a sentient, Socratic and cosmopolitan vision of higher education."--Jon Nixon, Times Higher Education
"It's an important and timely plea because the pursuit of so-called useful educational results continues apace, and because the threats to humanistic education are indeed profound."--Michael S. Roth, Chronicle of Higher Education
Table of Contents:
Foreword by Ruth O'Brien ix
CHAPTER I: The Silent Crisis 1
CHAPTER II: Education for Profit, Education for Democracy 13
CHAPTER III: Educating Citizens: The Moral (and Anti-Moral) Emotions 27
CHAPTER IV: Socratic Pedagogy: The Importance of Argument 47
CHAPTER V: Citizens of the World 79
CHAPTER VI: Cultivating Imagination: Literature and the Arts 95
CHAPTER VII: Democratic Education on the Ropes 121
This book has been translated into:
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Martha C. Nussbaum: