Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The muscle of thoughtfulness

The New York Times' Frank Bruni offers a lovely column on the value of higher education (“College, Poetry, and Purpose"). Eschewing current trends that focus on the commercial value of college, Bruni returns to his favorite professor, Anne Hall, who, he recalls, taught that “with careful examination and unhurried reflection, we could find in Shakespeare just about all of human life and human wisdom: every warning we needed to hear, every joy we needed to cultivate.”  He now asks her, “What’s the highest calling of higher education?”

He reports, “She answered my question about college’s purpose, but not right away and not glibly, because rushed thinking and glibness are precisely what she believes education should be a bulwark against.”

Finally she says, succinctly, “It is for developing the muscle of thoughtfulness, the use of which will be the greatest pleasure in life and will also show what it means to be fully human.”

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