This course discusses two related questions: what is liberal education, and is it possible to receive one in the United States?
The phrase “liberal education” suggests that we can be liberated by our educations – freed from the narrow prejudices of our neighborhood or country or regime. But is that really possible when we are always educated in and by our neighborhoods and countries and regimes? Is it even desirable? And do some kinds of regimes allow for more liberal, or liberating, education than others? Democracies, like the United States, force us to choose between devoting our educational resources to advancing the best students and bringing everyone up to a common level. Can these tensions, between vocational training and liberal learning, and between equality and excellence be reconciled? What does it mean to be educated for freedom in a democracy?
- Plato, “Apology”
- Excerpts from John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education
- Excerpts from Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography
- Hannah Arendt, “The Crisis in Education”
Rita Koganzon is Associate Director of the Program on Constitutionalism and Democracy and a Lecturer in the Department of Politics. She is a political theorist specializing in the history of political thought. Her research focuses on the themes of childhood, education, and the family in political thought. She has published articles on the family in Hobbes, Locke’s educational writings, and the educational ideas of the American founders. She is currently working on a book that examines the relationship between familial and political authority in English and French political thought from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. She received her PhD in Government from Harvard University, and her BA in History from the University of Chicago.
Meet the Instructor
Tikvah aims to make all of our courses available to as many qualified students as possible. In the event that Tikvah needs to add additional sections, this course may be taught by a different faculty member with a similarly high level of expertise.
Rabbi Gabi Weinberg
Director of High School Programs