Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

College: What It Was, Is and Should Be

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

College: What It Was, Is and Should Be

Article excerpt

College: What It Was, Is and Should Be. By Andrew Delbanco. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012, Pp. xx, 229. $17.95.)

Andrew Delbanco's writes as a professor with a passion for the value of higher education. His passion and his knowledge clearly come through in his writing, making for an enjoyable and approachable text. He starts with the very important issue of the purpose of college. Then he takes his reader through a history of higher education in America and describes how the increasingly secular colleges and universities of today came to be. It is in his discussion of how universities came to be that Delbanco discusses what is most compelling and intriguing, and what has the most relevance for the church today: how so many colleges are failing to meet their purpose. Delbanco quotes from the journal of a college student in 1850 who prayed, "Oh that the Lord would show me how to think and how to choose" (15). That is an almost timeless prayer for college students of any era, and a quotation that succinctly sums up the purpose of college. Delbanco notes that too many schools are focusing on science, which "tells us nothing about how to shape a life or how to face death, about the meaning of love, or the scope or responsibility. It not only fails to answer such questions; it cannot ask them" (99). These questions of meaning, however, are just what should be at the heart of a good college education.

There is a remarkable similarity between the purpose of college and what we desire for every baptized Christian. In the Book of Common Prayer we pray that God will give every new Christian: "an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works" (308). …

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