“on the Uses of a Liberal Education” by Mark Edmundson: a Summary Essay

“On the Uses of a Liberal Education,” was published in 1997 by Mark Edmundson. This author has published many scholarly articles on literacy and cultural criticism. He teaches English at the University of Virginia. This article explains how Universities and those who attend universities including the teachers have focus less on the education portion and focus more on a consumerist society. He explains that the students have become like customers and the teachers are willing to do anything that meets their needs.

Edmundson introduces his point early on in the article when he talks about giving his students their course evaluations.

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He believes that these evaluations were distributed so the “informed consumers lets the provider know where they have come through and where they are not quite up to snuff”. This statement is important because it gives an example of how the students are consumers and whatever they say the professors would make a change. The way that you can tell that these evaluations have to do with the consumerist society is because when you go to a restaurant and at the end of your meal you are asked to evaluate and depending on what you write on the card is how they will change it.

In Edmundson’s opinion, being a consumerist instead of being a student makes you lose parts of yourself identity and you start acting like the ones around you and the people you see on TV. He states in this article that schools have replaced the word genius with the word consumerist. He explains that if your purpose of going to school is to learn then you are considered to be an outcast. Even though teachers like the outcast, because they think for themselves, they change their classes for the students that are there to fill up the seats instead of their brain.

Television shows that the right thing to do is go to college after high school, and since kids mimic what they see on television they go and have no real reason or point of being there. This shows how they are losing part of their identity because there are making a choice that they wouldn’t usually make. This point shows another main point of Edmundson’s article that students are going to a place of higher learning but they are not learning at all.

So in conclusion, students change into consumerists because of what they believe in. They go to college because they see other people doing it. Teachers do what students want because they want to meet their needs. Edmundson thinks that teachers should take their job seriously and start doing what they want to do and stop trying to do what the students want. But he wants the students to start taking their education seriously and start doing what they want and stop doing what they see others do.

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