Knowing How to Learn

Socrates knew something perfectly well that some of us are only now beginning to understand. Edward D. Hess, professor of business administration at the Darden School of Business, wrote recently in the Washington Post that he asked business innovation leaders what MBA students should be taught. “The overwhelming response was that we should be teaching our students ‘how to learn.’” This is...
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Inward-Bound for Business Leaders

The Economist recently opined (http://j.mp/Schumpeter-Philosopher-Kings) that the business world would benefit greatly from “inward-bound” courses. “The format would be simple. A handful of future leaders would gather in an isolated hotel and devote themselves to studying great books. They would be deprived of electronic distractions. During the day a tutor would ensure their noses stay in their tomes; in the evening the inward-bounders would...
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Human and Superhuman: High School Transcripts, Ivy-League Admissions, and a Life Worth Living

I keep hearing from parents of high-school students that preparation for going to college is putting far too much pressure on their children. They say that their kids need A+ academic averages, outstanding extracurricular activities of many different kinds, excellent performance on all standardized tests, extremely impressive admissions essays, and maybe even an attention-grabbing video or two! The demands have become superhuman....
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“Value” and the Value of College Education

In Tuesday’s Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen wrote about the recent fusillade of news stories asking whether college education is worth the cost: “Almost all these stories . . . answer with a money sign ($) but almost never in terms of education—knowledge, wisdom and, if I may be so bold, the pursuit of happiness.” Cohen is right on point here. The true...
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Technology in College Admissions

In two recent articles, the Washington Post‘s higher-education writer, Nick Anderson, wrote about high-tech solutions for the perennial dilemma of college admissions officers: How will students find us? (See http://bit.ly/Students-Finding-Colleges and http://bit.ly/Matchmaking-Through-Technology.) It turns out, Anderson reports, that Big Data is trying out a possible solution for this problem. By adapting the sort of questionnaires and data analysis used by...
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Great Books in the Theater of War

Outside the Wire, a performance company  that uses theater and other media to address pressing social issues, runs a project called Theater of War, which presents readings of Sophocles’s Ajax and Philoctetes to military and civilian audiences around the nation. Their aim is to create a space in which psychological injury can be de-stigmatized, and veterans can speak openly with civilians about their post-combat life struggles. Their...
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Is Self-interest Really Our Basic Motivation?

Neuroscientists seem to have devised an experiment showing that honesty often wins in a head-to-head competition with self-interest. Yet we hear so often, especially in economic contexts, that self-interest is the primary motivation for human actions. I recently wrote a commentary on this topic at the Huffington Post, What Would Adam Smith Say?, in which I pointed out that Adam Smith, often...
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A “Bigger-than-me” Experience

The tech revolution has made instant gratification so easy that young people now seem addicted to the “me” experience—that is, doing or making anything that maximizes personal pleasure, rewards, or positive feelings. So writes Steven J. Tepper (http://bit.ly/Bigger-than-me) in last week’s Chronicle of Higher Education. Tepper contrasts the “me” experience with the “bigger-than-me” experience, which seeks to solve common problems with a...
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How Does Moral, Emotional and Spiritual Growth Happen?

Columnist David Brooks recently wrote (http://bit.ly/BecomingARealPerson) that educators in authority at the nation’s elite colleges and universities “no longer feel compelled to define how they think moral, emotional and spiritual growth happens.” He goes on to say that “they don’t think it’s their place, or . . . they don’t think they know.” Far too much of higher education now...
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What’s at Stake?

In an essay investigating the significance of last year’s attempt to oust the president of the University of Virginia (http://bit.ly/thecoupthatfailed), Talbot Brewer reminds us about the essence of liberal education. Speaking about his own field, philosophy, he writes: Philosophy, in short, lives in conversation. The student must be called on to speak, and to do so sincerely rather than strategically—e.g., with an...
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