Colleges are failing to teach students much for one simple reason: They’re not trying very hard. ISI found that “the average senior had taken a total of only four courses in history, political science and economics.” Some Ivy League schools fell below even this paltry average. “Most Cornell seniors had not taken a single American history course,” the study found. This was also the case at Princeton.
Ironically, when it comes to a civic education, students who pay the least often learn the most. ISI found that Yale, Princeton, Duke and Cornell -- four private colleges that cost more than $30,000 per year -- reduced civic knowledge. Meanwhile, Murray State, Mississippi State, St. Cloud State, Illinois State and Eastern Connecticut State -- five public colleges that cost less that $15,000 (for out-of-staters) -- “increased civic knowledge by eight points or more.” Let’s hope the leaders of tomorrow are culled from these campuses, not their more expensive counterparts.
Not long ago, universities focused on civics education. They considered it important that students learn about the Founders and understand the people and events that shaped this great country.
That’s no longer true. Today’s “great” universities are failing the leaders of tomorrow by failing to teach them about yesterday. Unless this generation of educators decides to follow Woodrow Wilson’s call and start studying the past, our nation’s future could be grim indeed.