Live and Learn: Why we have college by Louis Menand Essay

Live and Learn: Why we have college by Louis Menand Essay

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Louis Menand, a professor of English and American literature at Harvard University presented three different theories for higher education in an article for The New Yorker named, Live and Learn: Why We Have College. Menand (2011) claims that the reasons for college are meritocratic, democratic, and vocational. These theories are great models for the purpose of higher education in our culture, at different points in our history. As a nation, there are definite intentions behind the way that instruction is conducted in our colleges and universities. The techniques adopted by institutions of higher education are no mistake and they are designed to serve a purpose. These methods evolve with time and shape the way that generations think and reason. In our generation, the purpose of higher education in our culture is to sustain the nation atop of the worldwide economy.
After World War II, the nation was focused on the promotion of democracy throughout the world. In 1946, President Harry Truman mandated a commission on higher education. The first federal commission on higher education in US history, submitted a report a year later and argued two fundamentals for higher education: equal opportunity and to educate the citizens. Philo Hutcheson (2011), an Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies at Georgia State University, explained the principles as: first, to promote “equal opportunity as a social economic good” (p. 45) and the latter to educate individuals so they can “make wise choices, especially in the face of totalitarian threats” (p. 45) after the war.
The report, Higher Education for American Democracy, triggered changes in federal policies and subsequently the universities followed suit. Members of the commission arg...

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...on in the United States tremendously. Creating jobs and wealth overcame democracy and personal achievement. The federal government involvement in the constant assessment of higher education in our society reveals the interest of policy-makers in shaping our collective conquest. The domination of the global economy by our nation is the force behind the purpose of higher education in our culture.


Hutcheson, P. (2011). Goals for United States higher education: from democracy to globalisation. History Of Education, 40(1), 45-57.

Lindsey, T. (2013). The Likelihood of Higher-Education Reform. Society , 236-244. doi:10.1007/s12115-013-9649-x

Menand, L. (2011). Live and Learn: Why we have college. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from¤tPage=all#ixzz2wLtYDJ49

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