Although Harts freshman class realized the gaps in their education, Hart asks what a real college education is, deplores the advent of specialization, and discusses what does or does not constitute real education. Harts concern with education lies with the end result: to produce a citizen. But while Hart gives excellent examples for what subjects he thinks constitute a real education in light of telos, a goal, he implies, rather than specifies, that such an education must cater to proactive, independent thought over ideologically based curriculum and courses.
It is through well-rounded, balanced independent thought, Hart argues, that a citizen who can recreate his civilization be made. In the first example, Hart names a curriculum engaged in so-called post modernist thought as something to avoid. It is one of the three intellectual fads, in which the use of the word fad describes a fashionable conduct as enthusiastically followed by a group. This way, Hart indirectly refers to post modernist thought as ideological and lacking in independent thought.
The second fad refers to Affirmative Action, which Hart describes as an ethos or mentality. Ethos describes the disposition of a culture or a group, and mentality refers to the set of a person or a groups mind; and both words conjure a certain blindness that Affirmative Action is supposed to fight. Again, Hart reflects on the dearth of nuance and consideration in such courses. Thirdly, Hart directly mentions ideology when he writes about Marxism, victimology, and identity politics, in which scholarly pursuit is put aside in deference to Studies programs.
Hart calls many of these courses nonsense and distraction, but fails to directly write that the single underlying theme of such courses is that because they operate under an ideology, they do not foster free thinking and independent rationality. Hart underlines his position for independent rationality by going on to discuss courses and curricula that he thinks support the end goal of citizenship. Rationality is implied when Hart takes on the subject of requiring a student to know and understanding themes in civilization, a task that maneuvers beyond mere adherence to ideological standards.
The student must know his civilization: .. its important areas of thought, its philosophical and religious controversies, the outline of its history and its major works. The citizen need not know quantum physics, but he should know that it is there and what it means. Once the citizen knows the shape, the narrative, of his civilization, he is able to locate new things ” and other civilizations ” in relation to it.
By referring to controversies, major works, and narrative, Harts stance on education is of well-roundedness, independent thought, and being comfortable on differing sides of issues”a stance not suitable to the ideologically minded. Hart makes connections to Athens and Jerusalem in order to outline how a student may develop her college education. Both Athens and Jerusalem were and are centers of independent thought. Athens refers to the ancient Greek capital in which rational thought, philosophy, and democracy were birthed; it was the birthplace of philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle:
Of things useful and necessary only those that are free should be taught, and the young should partake in nothing of a vulgar, mechanical sort or that will render body, soul, or thought unfit for virtue. (Philips 154). Jerusalem, since the reign of Solomon, has been the spiritual capital of three major religions in the world today. Independent thought emerges out of Jerusalem in the guise of Abraham who sought argument with God, and Jesus, who argued and fought with the spiritual leaders priests and scribes, or Pharisees and Sadducees”of his day (Columbia).
A student, dynamically engaged with both scientifically rational and enlighteningly spiritual sides, can succeed in mastering themes of his or her civilization with independence of thought rather than subsisting on an ideological track. Such a student would be able to carve for him or herself a true education with a goal of not being simply educated, but a goal of becoming an involved, active citizen of society, and of a civilization. Hart discusses China as a final example to his essay.
Hart reminds us that one could consider China, who has lacked the dynamic interaction between science and spirituality, and who is world renowned for its collectivist culture, one in which independent thought is frowned upon. Again, Hart does not directly mention this, but references it with mentioning China with its symbols: Great Wall and Forbidden City.
Jerusalem. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2007. Philips, Peter L. The Politics of Aristotle. University of North Carolina Press, 1997