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Category: Education

There Is No Case for the Humanities

The humanities are not just dying. By some measures, they are almost dead. In Scotland, the ancient Chairs in Humanity (which is to say, Latin) have almost disappeared in the last few decades: abolished, left vacant, or merged into chairs of classics. So too in the same period, the University of Oxford revised its famed…

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How Not to Defend the Humanities

In Renaissance Italy, the birthplace of the humanities, there were people who believed in literature. Not just people who read literature, wrote literature, studied literature, professed literature, packaged and sold literature, as today, but people who really believed in it. They believed that certain old books—containing poetry, history, moral philosophy, drama, oratory—could reshape the souls…

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The Western Elite from a Chinese Perspective

The Evangelical Christians I have met in the United States often talk about how reading the Bible changed their lives. They talk about being born again. I am not an Evangelical Christian. I am a Chinese atheist who came to the West to study at the world’s best universities and, later, to work at one…

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Excellence and Equality in Mathematics Education

For most countries, mathematical literacy is an expected outcome of schooling. This has been true for a long time. Mathematical literacy initially encompassed basic arithmetic skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing whole numbers, decimals, and fractions; computing percentages; and computing the area and volume of simple geometric shapes. More recently, the digitization of many aspects of…

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Accelerate Education

Virtually everyone believes education is a key to prosperity. But the fact that Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a tie-breaking vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of education raises the question: why does education provoke such sharp divisions in the United States? At present, the college enrollment for the 18–24 age group stands around 40 percent, up from 26 percent in 1980. As expected, labor force participation for this age group has declined…

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The Two-Board Knot: Zoning, Schools, and Inequality

Old Town Road traces a choppy, swerving path that marks the southern edge of Trumbull, Connecticut. It is shaded by maples and oaks that frame the sensible New England homes of an affluent suburb. Across the double yellow lines of Old Town Road are similar homes in the city of Bridgeport, one of the poorest…

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Reforming Elites the Confucian Way

Meritocracy has become a theme of great interest in contemporary politics, both in Western and Eastern societies. But attitudes toward meritocracy in the two regions differ sharply. In the West, the concept of an elite constituted by its most intellectually gifted and energetic members came into its own in the later nineteenth century with the adoption by the British government of civil service…

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A Renewed Republican Party

“However sudden and momentous be events that have just taken place so swiftly, the author can claim that they have not taken him by surprise.” So wrote Tocqueville in the Author’s Preface to the Twelfth Edition of Democracy in America, on the occasion, in 1848, of the final political repudiation of the effort to restore…

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