Why Does Higher Education Lack Wisdom?

by hamiltonmj1983

A recent article in Christianity Today highlighted what was missing in the majority of higher education institutions in America: Wisdom.

After explaining the importance of dispensing wisdom in the past, Mr. Perry Glanzer explains,

Today, however, the idea that professors should dispense moral wisdom is passé. Contemporary universities consider themselves sources of technical expertise for professional practices. If their professors dispense advice beyond their discipline, it usually concerns matters of public policy or political life.

I have witnessed this first hand, working in a community college. The majority of my students are not interested in learning or gaining wisdom, but simply getting the correct credentials to obtain a job. The entire value of higher education, for many students, is directly proportional to the dollar amount on the paycheck the student will be earning on “the other side.”

Glanzer explains five ways that Christian colleges and universities stand against this trend:

But does it matter in practice? Research shows that Christian, particularly evangelical, institutions demonstrate a marked moral difference in five areas: (1) faculty attitudes; (2) Bible, theology, and ethics in the curriculum; (3) measured or reported impact on character or moral attitudes; (4) students’ moral reasoning; and (5) alumni views about moral education.

I can also speak to this, as I attended both a christian college and a seminary. The most obvious, to me, is number one, “faculty attitudes.” During my time spent in community college, prior to transferring to Carson-Newman College, the faculty were strangers. Most of them never even knew my name. When I moved to Tennessee and started attending CN, the faculty, particularly within my major, all made a point of getting to know me. I felt as though I personally knew the professors on both a professor / student as well as a personal mentor / student level.

The use of Bible, theology, and ethics in the curriculum is important, in my opinion, even if only to understand just how influential the Bible has been on our culture. Some secular schools allow these to be studied, but the freedom to teach it is limited.

The idea of impacting moral attitudes and overall personal character was very prevalent in my experience in Christian higher education, and I agree that it also is very important. The secular university, and some religious universities, completely lack this factor. Morality is not an issue for the institution until laws are broken, and therefore morality is in decline on college campuses. Moral reasoning between both students and alumni is increased in Christian colleges (in my experience).

One of the major problem issues in higher education is that the value of obtained wisdom is not held in high regard in our society; instead we want a return dollar for dollar on our “investment” in school. Until the value of wisdom is reevaluated in this country, higher ed will continue to be seen as nothing more than the next “bubble” waiting to burst.