5:01 PM, Aug 4, 2015 • By ERIN MUNDAHL
Americans have long been skeptical of the liberal arts. Frequently this takes the form of a discussion of whether a degree in history or literature is “worth it” in a purely economic sense. Annual reports highlight the top-earning college majors, subtly encouraging students to forgo a class in literature or history in favor of something useful, like nursing or engineering.
Perhaps it’s a reflection of our innate American pragmatism.
Now, schools across the Pacific seem to share this bias. The Wall Street Journal reports that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called on Japan’s 86 universities to “redefine their missions.”
The Journal writes:
“The drive is part of Mr. Abe’s efforts to revitalize Japan, injecting more dynamism and innovation into the economy through a greater focus on research, and improving the competitiveness of its graduates with precisely tailored course work.”
As Japanese companies have slashed their training programs, the burden of teaching students organizational and social skills has apparently fallen on universities. Lest some schools be reluctant to reform, Abe has tied allocation of government funding to how well the universities embrace his proposed educational vision.
To support job training, universities are planning to cut enrollment in the humanities drastically, replacing these programs with more job training.
But aren’t students receiving enough of that already? The Japanese educational system already pushes many students towards vocational training and emphasizes skills in mathematics and English above the arts and humanities.
A strong liberal arts education encourages students to think critically of the world around them and to place events within their social and historical context. Reading philosophy trains the mind to reason and think abstractly, while literature depicts the questioning trials and torments of the human soul.
If you can teach a student how to think well, doesn’t it stand to reason that he would be organized and articulate enough to confront the workplace as well?
3:41 PM, Jul 23, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
The latest New York Times bestseller list has Ted Cruz's A Time for Truth at number 8. Just above him is former President Jimmy Carter's A Full Life, coming in at 7.
The strange thing, however, is that Cruz sold almost 60 percent more copies of his book last week than Carter.
According to Bookscan, which tracks the number of books sold, Cruz sold 8,814 last week. Carter sold only 5,147.
The New York Times list does not indicate either author's books were purchased in bulk orders.
1:38 PM, Jul 8, 2015 • By DAVID BAHR
Fareed Zakaria, CNN’s foreign policy touchstone, has officially entered what is passing for the “culture wars” in American education with his new book, In Defense of a Liberal Education. Zakaria argues that the mode of education known as the liberal arts is in peril, and purports to offer a robust defense.
1:03 PM, Jan 22, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
In a press conference with reporters today on Capitol Hill, Harry Reid described what he's been up to since injuring his face and ribs in an exercising accident:
3:49 PM, Jan 12, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
It's been almost five years since Obamacare was passed, and the law remains as unpopular as ever—public support hit a record low of 37 percent in November. Opposing Obamacare is a no-brainer for Republicans politically, though the question of what to do about the law remains something that divides the right. And finding the right legislative remedy has become an especially acute challenge now that Republicans control the House and Senate.
The Washington Examiner's Phil Klein has justly earned a reputation as one of the best reporters covering Obamacare, and the timing of his new book, Overcoming Obamacare: Three Approaches to Reversing the Government Takeover of Health Care, could not be better. Here Klein takes a look at three major schools of thought on the right about how to fixing the law, or what he calls the reform school, the replace school, and the restart school. If you want to know what the future holds in store for Obamacare, Klein's book is essential reading—and the Kindle version is just $2.99.
The B&A Podcast is hosted by Philip Terzian.10:05 AM, Oct 12, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD Books & Arts Podcast with Philip Terzian, on the October 13th Issue's Books and Arts section.
The Loeb Classical Library goes digitalOct 6, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 04 • By SUSAN KRISTOL
“Chemistry and Physics Get Million from Loeb,” blared the Harvard Crimson headline. “Funds will modernize laboratory facilities and establish chemistry chairs.” The donor: scientist Morris Loeb ’83. A million dollars is indeed generous. But on the Harvard scale, did it really warrant a Crimson headline?
Night visions of Americans, and what to make of themJul 28, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 43 • By JUDY BACHRACH
It’s hard to know what to make of Lincoln Dreamt He Died. On reading the title, my first irreverent thought was: Hey, safe bet. My second: Contrary to popular myth-ology, many of us dream of our own deaths—and guess what? We’re prophetic! Then I studied the subtitle and worried some more. Was this going to be as bad as the publisher heralded?
The literary (?) career of Jules VerneJul 21, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 42 • By ALGIS VALIUNAS
Certain amusements appropriate to childhood or adolescence have established a beachhead in adulthood, or its 21st-century American simulacrum. Grown men and women indulge, with or without shame, in video games, fantasy football leagues, sitcoms, online porn, comic books, and movies based on comic books—or that involve Las Vegas, 33 shots of tequila, and waking up athwart two female Sumo wrestlers and a chimpanzee.
The Great War, of modern memory, at 100Jun 30, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 40 • By J. HARVIE WILKINSON III
Back then, it was not known as World War I, for the obvious reason that the Second World War still lay in the future. It was simply the Great War, for the world had never seen anything like it.
The changing instinct for self-depictionJun 30, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 40 • By HENRIK BERING
In the history of art, self-portraiture constitutes a world of its own, presenting us with moods ranging from the lighthearted to the sordid. There is sheer delight in Rubens’s painting of himself and his first wife Isabella Brant in a bower of honeysuckle bliss; acute menace when Caravaggio decks himself out as Bacchus, looking like some exceedingly poisonous rent boy, and veering into grisliness when he lets the severed head of Goliath carry his own likeness.
Will you, won’t you, benefit from graduate education?Jun 30, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 40 • By ABIGAIL LAVIN
When I sat for my SAT exams as a high school senior, I thought to myself, “This is the last standardized test you will ever have to take!” I had never considered myself an intellectual and was vaguely distrustful of anyone who chose the cocoon of the academy over the rough-and-tumble of the “real world.” Ten years later, I was sitting in a café in downtown Shanghai, gritting my teeth over the Princeton Review’s GRE prep manual.
The science and philosophy of putting on/taking off weightJun 23, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 39 • By KEVIN R. KOSAR
Reports have surfaced of a professor with a mania for self-examination. His line of inquiry, however, is not of the Socratic philosophical sort. An expert in computer science, he is collecting data on his bodily functions. To improve his diet (and reduce his weight) he tracks what he eats down to the calorie. He straps sensors to his body to measure his caloric burn while exercising. Unsettlingly, it has been reported, the professor “is deep into the biochemistry of his feces . . .