Focus Point - The Crashing Curriculum

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Here's a quiz for you: who knows a lot about racial, ethnic and sexual politics, but very little about literary history, Shakespeare and the classic authors of the Western philosophy? Answer: more and more college English graduates.

That bad news comes from the national association of scholars. Thanks to politicized English departments at select liberal arts colleges and universities, the proportion of courses studying major authors, periods and genres declined from an average of 58 percent of departmental offerings in 1964 to 35 percent in 1997.

Meanwhile, courses on racial, ethnic, or sexual topics, unheard of 35 years ago, are now everywhere.

Now, variety's fine. Even, yes, multi-culturalism. But without the core learning of the Western canon, the rest is rudderless. It's like having somebody work on your car who's really good with headlights -- but who's never seen an engine.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont and we'll see you next time.