The Forum | General Education

Response to “Great Books for a Brainwashing” (WSJ 7/28)

August 7, 2019 by Michael B. Poliakoff

Andy Kessler’s op-ed, “Great Books for a Brainwashing” (July 28), is a sobering reminder of the damage that fair-sounding summer reading initiatives have been doing now for some years, by which colleges prime students for social justice activism via summer reading requirements. It does not have to be this way. Under the leadership of University of Colorado president, Senator Hank Brown, a habitually left-leaning university nonetheless launched a summer reading program, with support from the Manhattan Institute’s Veritas Fund, that was built on a different model. The summer reading included texts ranging from Plato’s Allegory of the Cave to the Federalist Papers to Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Over 60 faculty members, mostly political liberals, walked students through discussion of the challenges of maintaining a free society, and acquainted them with core documents of the Western heritage. The secret ingredient is, of course, leadership, from the trustees through the president and on to the deans and faculty. It is imperative that governing boards stop their hands-off deference to the will of the faculty and student life professionals and take an active role in setting policies that eschew political indoctrination and acquaint young minds with the living legacy of our past.


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