Allan Bloom clearly distinguishes between Prestigious Private Liberal Arts Colleges and State Universities in the Liberal Studies selection of his book, The Closing of the American Mind. He strongly believes that the University has to stand for something. There is not a clear definition of what an educated human being is, and it is the responsibility of a University to decide what subjects are going to be required by their students to obtain a degree. Allan Bloom characterizes the prestigious institutions as colleges that are supposed to provide liberal education. He classifies the State Schools as colleges that are to prepare specialists to fit the systematic demands of this complex society.
He is trying to imply that there is a problem with todays liberal studies program with most universities in the United States. He thinks that the various courses that are required are all unrelated to each other. He states two approaches to the liberal studies problem, and he suggests his own personal solution. The first approach is to take a course in each general department of the university. The second approach, which is usually turned down by the majority of universities, is to take composite courses.
This is basically a joining of several departments into one course. His solution to the liberal studies problem is the Great Books approach. The Great Books approach is a list of generally recognized classical texts that would be required by the students to read. If this were the case, then the students would not be forced into the specific categories of the university. All that they would have to do is simply read the books. A question that I have is how would the students be tested on their comprehension of the reading.
The professors could not just assume that everyone read these books, let alone understand them. I think that the students could just go buy these books at a bookstore if they wanted to read them, instead of paying tuition to read these various books. Another issue that he addresses is the morality of liberal studies. Both schools almost have to feel guilty for their own self-interest in making money and for ripping the students off. They know that it would not take four years to graduate if we were to specialize in our major the whole time. He also thinks that the undecided student is an embarrassment to the university.
I do not agree with this because the student has probably already narrowed down their choices, and now just trying to pick the right one. Overall, I agree with him that there may be a few liberal studies problems, but I do not know if his approaches are the correct answers to the problem.