DECADENCE AND RENEWAL IN THE HIGHER LEARNING by Russell Kirk

DECADENCE AND RENEWAL IN THE HIGHER LEARNING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A practiced decrier of the decadence of modern culture, Russell Kirk here summons memories, facts, and ideals for a sustained assault on ""the Waste Land of Academe nowadays."" As he chronicles the social history of the university over the past generation, he identifies ideas and practices that he believes have worked to the university's detriment and its cultural decline. Most important of these is the confusion of purpose: uncertain as to whether it should be an instrument of socialization, vocational training, or mental discipline, the university has collapsed into an appalling ""intellectual disorder."" Course offerings have proliferated like products in a shopping center, the trivial has been exalted, demanding standards of performance have been virtually abandoned. What is more, the increasing size of universities has all but robbed pedagogy of any hope of success, a theft compounded by the misguided democratic belief that everyone should go to college and by the failure of secondary schools to prepare students for advanced study. Kirk also assails the Introduction of political ideology into the academic environment, although it is academia's fondness for liberalism that he mainly has in mind; and he deplores the vulgarization of that environment through the intrusion of mass cultural tastes--like loud music. Good conservative that he is, Kirk recommends the elimination of unlimited course options, the restoration of a traditional curriculum, and the rededication of education to the cultivation of intellectual discipline and moral imagination. A responsible statement of a predictable position.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1978
Publisher: Gateway Editions (P.O. Box 207, South Bend, Ind. 46624)