andre: good evening. my name is andre aciman,and i’m the director of the center for the humanities, and it is my sincere pleasureto welcome so many of you tonight. there is no question that we owe the attendance tonightto our guests, who are established celebrities. fareed zakaria, leon botstein, and sam tanenhaus,but we owe the evening to the very hard work of the center of the humanities, to the studentsof the comparative literature department, the staff and director of the graduate center’spublic programming department, and to president robinson and the provost louise lennihan.and we also owe it to two individuals. to professor uday mehta, without whose help andgoodwill, this evening could not have been happening, and to my good friend, joan bingham,whose generosity and support made this evening
possible. generosity and support these daysare not easy to come by, and if many of you think i’m trying to be subtle here, kindlytake a moment to read the back of the card which you received before entering this hall.we are a public institution, and like so many public venues in this amazing city, we relyand we thrive on the support of individuals who like the graduate center. my mission asthe director of the center for the humanities has been twofold – to take what we do hereto the rest of the city, to the far reaches of the city sometimes and beyond. we are thedoctoral-granting heart of this city university of new york. our ph.d. students teach abouta quarter of a million students within the cuny system. bringing the very best researchand learning to virtually every neighborhood
of every borough of the city of new york.we are committed to interdisciplinary compact across our many programs, centers, and institutes.it is also here where just last year, a student of ours got named as a guggenheim fellow,and another won the pulitzer prize. no other place in the country, it’s been said, hasso many experts in so many fields under one roof, who many of you remember as being adepartment store. tonight i am thrilled to welcome our graduate center alumni, who arepresent in this auditorium. but the second part of my mission is to bring what happensin this very building, to bring the very best of new york here in this building. in thepast week, we hosted, among others, a panel devoted to what remains the most celebratedeuropean writer here in america today, elena
ferrante. then we had one event devoted toharper lee’s latest novel. in the months to come, we are hosting an event devoted to thehaunting memory of the holocaust, not among survivors, but among the children of survivors.among the speakers will be roger cohen, daniel mendelsohn, adam kirsch, the new yorker criticruth franklin, marianne hirsch, a professor of comparative literature at columbia. thenwe’re going to have the brilliant pianist, young pianist, from switzerland, and israel,david greilsammer, be here in residency for a whole week. we’re also going to have theprivilege of hosting none other than murray perahia for one evening. he will not play,but he will talk. we also are going to be hosting an event on translation. among theguests will be jonathan galassi, the president
of farrar, straus and girous, and homi bhabhafrom harvard university. and also, finally, one of the things we’re going to be doing,which is totally innovative, is a course in the comparative literature department in whichclaire messud, paul auster, rick moody, paul muldoon, roxana robinson, and judith thurman,among others, will each teach a classic that they love. we are an extremely dynamic andinnovative place. tonight we have three important figures whowill discuss the role of the liberal education in america, a subject truly frought, and ofinterest to this institution. as we all know, fareed zakaria is the host and commentatorof cnn’s sunday’s gps program, and has a column every week in the washington post. with fareed,you learn not only new facts, but you learn
how to think about them with intellectualclarity and sobriety. you not only end up agreeing with him every time, but you alsoend up slapping your head and said, "why couldn’t i have thought of that?" fareed has writtenfor every magazine in existence, and every newspaper. he’s also the author of the post-americanworld, from wealth to power, the future of freedom, and most recently, in defense ofliberal education. our other guest also needs no introduction. leon botstein is the presidentof bard college, and the music director and principal conductor of the american symphonyorchestra. he is so committed and invented an advocate of progressive education, thatyou can call him the edison of education. he is the author of jefferson’s children.he has edited many, many books on different
composers, and is the mind and heart behindthe bard music festival every summer, which has become a sort of cultural mana for allmy upper west side and upper east side friends, who flee the city every summer to go to hudsonand dutchess county. leon botstein is also on the of the most generous persons i know,and not only has he been extremely generous to me personally, but also to my twin sons,who attended what remains, i think, the best high school in new york city, bard high schoolearly college. they are both fully employed (my twins). thank you leon for that. speakto leon and you suddenly feel you need to come up with more intelligent things to say,because what you really thought isn’t going to wash. intelligence is also the signal qualityi have observed in our third guest tonight,
who will be moderating the panel, sam tannenhaus,who was until recently the editor of the new york times’ book review, and is a writer atlarge for the times. he’s the author of whittaker chambers, which won the los angeles timesbook prize, and was a finalist for both the national book award and the pulitzer prize.he is also the author of the death of conservatism. he has come to teach for us here at the graduatecenter many times, and to comparative literature students as well, who are eager to masterthe art of book reviewing. sam tannenhaus reads a piece, let me tell you, line by line,sometimes a reader, something that all readers dread. when he doesn’t touch something you’vewritten, you either feel, wow, i got him fooled, until he says something like, oh, and by theway, that thing back there, that was a split
infinitive. one last word. it was james chasewho first spoke to me about fareed zakaria, when fareed was not even thirty years old.it was james chase who years ago brought sam tannenhaus to my attention, and it is thanksto leon botstein that i met james chase. so i want to do something unusual tonight anddedicate this evening to the memory of this wonderful man, whom everyone loved so muchand misses so much. thank you. [applause] sam: so i guess our microphones are on. thankyou so much, andre, and to cuny, and for all of you who showed up, although i see my wifeisn’t here, and i hope she’s going to make it, oh, she’s back there, because there’sa seat for you right in front. ok, well. here
we have two of… tell me if this is… canyou hear me ok? is this good? ok. first of all i have to say these two very brilliantguests of ours, leon and fareed have both said they really like audience questions,and i do too, so, and andre has agreed that maybe we’ll cut it, their brilliant monologuesand answers, a little short, so we can get to questions sooner, if the audience wouldlike to participate. so, fareed, i’m going to start with you, and ask you, of all people,who people, i think, many of us think as kind of a policy guy, polymath, very globally minded,wrote a book that barack obama was very visibly carrying around, before he switched over tojonathan franzen. who or what liberal education needs a defense from, and why?
fareed: thank you all very much. thank you,sam. i think that the reason i wrote that book was, i was struck by two realities. thefirst was that there was this deep anxiety in the united states about the future of thecountry. the anxiety, because middle class incomes are down, because this recession hastaken a long time to get out of, and more generally because the world seems to be changingvery fast in profound ways, and people felt that the old ways of doing things aren’t right,and so they had to, they were searching around for something new. and in that context, youhave lots of people saying education should really simply be a trade. we need more peoplewho can be welders. you heard it in, i think, the last republican debate, marco rubio saidwe need fewer philosophers and more welders,
and then the new york times, in its inimitableway, did a fact check, and discovered that the average wage of a philosophy major was$92,000 and the average wage of a welder was $42,000, so that simply on a factual basis,it wasn’t correct. but there is that anxiety, and i wanted to try to articulate a defensefor this very american idea that you get a broad general education. you know, in the19th century, european countries like germany, france, even britain for the most part, withthe exception of the oxbridge system, had trade-based education. the whole idea was,you apprenticed, you learned your father’s trade, and you moved on. in the united states,the feeling was, people didn’t want to lock themselves into one city, one guild, one trade,one craft, they wanted to move, they wanted
to experience the dynamism of america, theeconomy, and so america always emphasized from very early on, this idea of a broad,general education, that would prepare you not for your first job, but for your sixthjob. there was a sense that life changes, society changes, that you change, and youtry to develop this broad set of general skills. the second piece of it was, that i felt peopledidn’t understand what innovation was all about. the idea seemed to be that we all needto become software programmers, and that that would make us very innovative as a society,but innovation is actually a much broader, more complicated thing, and if you try tolook at what societies are genuinely innovative, you find yourself surprised, and i was surprisedby this. we all know that americans do very
badly at standardized tests, compared with,you know, our peers in the rich world. and so i ask myself, well how did we do ten yearsago? the answer is very badly. how did we do twenty years ago? very badly. how did wedo in 1963, the first time there was an international test of fifteen-year-olds? very badly. soyou ask yourself, but if you look back over the last 40 years, what country has dominatedthe world of science, technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth, it’sthe united states? so, somehow we’re very bad at tests, but very good at life, and howto explain that paradox. so i looked at other countries that are undeniably innovative.sweden and israel really pop off the charts on a per-capita basis, obviuosly. and youask yourself, what is it in them? so the first
thing i did was looked at how they did inthese science tests. guess what the answer is. worse than the united states. so, we come24th in math in the pisa test, sweden comes 26th, israel comes 27th. now what do theyhave in common? they’re all very open, dynamic, flexible societies, with the economies. they’reall very non-hierarchical in their approach to education, in their approach to life, sothat, you know, a junior researcher can challenge something that a senior researcher does. ajunior person in a firm can challenge what the c.e.o. wants. they’re also very confident.this is something you can actually measure, because the pisa test started asking, at onepoint, in the early ’80s, after you did the math, they would ask you, how do you thinkyou did on the math test? you can imagine
what happens to the american students. wedo lousily in math, but we do really well on how we think we did. and so, when hearingthis bill bennett, the secretary of education at the time, said, it’s clear what the problemin america is, we’re beating at teaching self esteem than science. and it’s a good laugh,but i would put it to you, that if you’re trying to encourage entrepreneurship in asociety, what’s probably more important than science is self esteem. you have to have confidencein yourself. you have to have confidence in your ideas. you have to have confidence thatyou can make it, even when you fail, because all entrepreneus fail the first, and the second,and the third time, and they pick themselves up. that’s why americans do well. it’s notthat we have better scientific training than
germany. germany has much better scientifictraining than we do. yet their rates of entrepreneurship are much worse than the united states. why?because they don’t have that sense of confidence. they don’t have that sense that bankruptcyis a temporary path to progress, rather than a permanent matter of shame and obstacle.look at donald trump, boasting about bankruptcies. so, for both reasons, i felt that we weremisunderstanding the unique nature of american education, but also how societies and howpeople innovate. sam: let me ask leon now. young though youare, you’ve been the president of a college for a very long time, and you, for some fortyyears or more, and you’ve watched american education change. in fact, you have been oneof the innovators yourself. some may remember
a long profile of leon in the new yorker,fairly recently, about a new approach you had to college admission and applications,how they should be done. what are the most important changes you’ve seen for better andworse? leon: so, i’m most impressed by how thingsremain the same. people have a certain kind of investment in describing a change thatdoesn’t really exist, or is actually very superficial. so, i actually think that, actuallythe university itself, and the [inaudible] system, and i think fareed made this point,has remained reasonably stable. much less has changed than we would like to think. oneof the reasons why i am not particularly utopian or dystopian on technology. you know, we’vebeen living with this sort of, you know, that
the computer and internet were going to putthe classroom out of business, and i smiled because the university, if someone were towake up in a… what was that novel, when the guy wakes up? rip van winkle, right, orthe connecticut yankee in king arthur’s court, wasn’t there such a story? if someone fromthe 12th century woke up, and walked on a campus of a university, they would see morecontinuity than change. yet, since the 12th century, if i listed all the technologieswhich have entered our life, you know, the current technological revolution is goingto be absorbed and adapted to the very fundamental character of how universities work. so, inamerica, i think very little has changed, except in some respect, in the way the publiclooks at it. there’s much more emphasis on
a kind of reductive standardized testing.this has been an american disease. bad tests that drive curriculum and give policy-makersa handle on whether things are going well or not, which are inaccurate. and, a sortof fear, and an anti-intellectualism toward who becomes a teacher, and how we treat ateacher in our classrooms. and no sane person would become a teacher. sam: and do you mean before the college level? leon: before the college level. sam: because you’ve written that fifteen-and sixteen-year-olds are ready for college. leon: the real weak spot in american educationhas always remained, in my view, adolesecence.
so, the majority of americans didn’t finishhigh school until after the second world war. and our system of high school has somethingadmirable, which explains why the liberal arts are so important in the united states,because we didn’t have a university preparatory, secondary system, which selected people outat 11th grade or 13th age, and so what you had is a democratic system in which peoplelearned to live together, but knew how to do nothing at all, and they went to college.and the idea of the liberal arts that we have now really derives from america’s entranceto world war i. here in new york, when nicholas murray butler and columbia decided, we’resending people to die in the fields of france, and they have no idea where they are or whythey’re there. and so…
sam: from columbia. leon: columbia, yeah. so, suddenly our conceptionof general education, the liberal arts, and all this rhetoric picks up from an 18th- and19th-century tendency… jefferson was very concerned, that’s why jefferson was invoked,to create an american educational system that fit american politics and american life, andthat was not an import. and we created a hybrid of the british oxbridge system and the germanuniversity that influenced that land grant universities. but the idea of a liberal artseducation, a general education, was compensatory for a very poor secondary schooling by comparisonto european standards. so, the fact is that… but the weak spot has always remained, especiallyas more and more people came into the public
system, the secondary, the high school, theamerican high school. and so, what i’ve seen over the last twenty years, is that that hasnot improved. we do not recruit better people into the teaching system. the depression wasgreat for teachers, because people couldn’t find work elsewhere, went into the teachingprofession, and we had a much higher quality of teacher in the ’40s and ’50s. many of themretired, and the replacements were not from the same calibur. so we suffer from a deficitof quality of teachers and quality of training of those teachers, particularly when youngpeople come of age, and they have real focused interests, and they want to work with professionals,they’re not children anymore. sam: what age is that?
leon: i would say, in my view, it’s when theonset of puberty. and that we really lose the most creative moments of young peoplefrom the ages of thirteen to eighteen. there’s a kind of black hole. some things do well- music, people are in computer science, but those are at the margins. and eighteen isa little too late. the age of maturation has dropped, biologically, owing to nutrition,and vaccination, and so in answer to your question, has something really changed? theother thing that’s changed is the attitude of the public, and fareed responds to that.and that took a big leap forward in the financial crisis of 2007, combined with the technologicalrevolution, this notion that studying english, even the president of the united states madesome kind of derogatory comment about getting
a degree in art history, and somehow thisis the sort of anti-intellectualism of a kind of radical egalitarian theory, that we whobelieve that leonardo da vinci is more interesting than the visual character of some, simpsonson tv, is a conceit, that it’s a conceit of an aristocracy that doesn’t exist, and ifit doesn’t make money and requires subsidy, it can’t be very good, and there’s a kindof rage against things that seem useless, and are pretentious. and there’s no evidencethat people who can quote shakespeare by heart are better human beings, and nor should theyhave more political power, so the putting forward high culture as a kind of self-improvementhas a double-edged sword in the united states, which a lot of people are against it. andthese fields, the humanities, and some social
sciences, are viewed as useless. as fareedsuggests, the facts are otherwise. just as in the political campaign, people don’t seemto care whether you’re saying the truth, people with liberal arts degrees have more earningpower and less unemployment than any other graduates of the american university. so theidea that liberal arts are useless in an economic term, forget the other defenses of them, hasno factual basis. and yet there is this feeling that they’re impractical. parents are worried,what can you do with a degree in english. let alone, should they get a degree in thearts, that’s really frightening. and it’s an attitude which is understandable, and we’vedone a bad job in the university of defending it, and in fact many liberal arts programsare not very good. they’re dominated by academics,
self-interested academic guilds. sam: explain what you mean by that. leon: well, these are people who go to graduateschool, and you have to protect many things from their defenders. you have to protectmusic from musicologists. you have to protect literature from professors of english. youhave to protect history, because people who feel they own it as if they were own it asa trade or a possession, and look down on the ability to communicate it, are not necessarilythe greatest scholars or the defenders. there’s this kind of academic self-importance, andthey become professions, which like to self-replicate, and universities are in silos of departments,that talk to themselves, and each other, and
a student comes to an undergraduate campusand has a catalogue of courses listed by professional departments from graduate school, and no onehas asked the question, what does the student need to know? and what does the student wantto know? so, curriculums that masquerade as liberal arts curriculums often, there’s toofar a gap between the rhetoric and the reality. sam: i warned our two guests that i’m goingto read something to them. it’s from a quite well known book. it’s called the americanuniversity. it’s by the very distinguished columbia professor who lived to the age of101. jacques barzun, who was a very distinguihsed eminence at columbia university for many,many years. introduced lionel trilling to the novels of henry james. those of you whothought trilling discovered that himself.
and barzun’s book was published in 1968, andso it’s cheering to me to look out at this audience, and this is meant only as a compliment,and know that some people here will actually remember what happened at columbia in 1968,so i’m going to read a postscript. he actually writes ‘p.s.’ at the end of his preface. andbarzun writes, "the completed typescript of this book was in the hands of the publisher"- all these archaic terms – "six weeks before the student outbreak of april 23rd," and thatwas not an outbreak to celebrate shakespeare’s birthday, "that disrupted the work of columbiauniversity." right? you know what he’s talking about. they had major student campus riotsthere. sds and all the rest. "i have since then found no reason to change or add to thesubstance of what i had written months earlier."
so here’s my question to these two guys. you’reboth admirers of thomas jefferson. fareed, you’ve got a chapter on the natural aristocracythat jefferson thought a liberal arts university could create. leon has written a book he’smentioned called jefferson’s children. there are campuses now in the united states wherethomas jefferson is not the most esteemed of our forepersons, we’ll call them, alongwith many other figures that we might think of as consequential, however flawed, but great.we discussed some of them, and you’ve been following this – woodrow wilson, at princeton.there was a question about john c. calhoun. now, there’s a strong case to be made againsthim, but nonetheless, richard hofstadter said, one of the few primary political thinkersin american thinkers. essentially created
the idea of concurrent majorities which aregiving us such a difficult time in congress now. major figure. harvard has decided thatits college masters should not be called masters, because that implies the students might beslaves. amherst has had trouble. and i say this only as a question. how does this affect,if at all, the way each of you think about the idea of the liberal university, of theliberal education, and students, their expectations. leon has mentioned, students need to be taughtthe things they want to learn. so i’ll start with you, fareed. does any of this, any ofwhat you wrote or thought about look different to you now. fareed: no, not really. i think that wheni look at the kinds of things that have happened
on college campuses in the last few months.you know, one has a variety of reactions. the first is, when you talk about issues likejefferson, calhoun, woodrow wilson, i think this is incredibly healthy and admirable thatstudents should care that much what the name of their dorm is, that they should inquireas to who these people are, that they should ask themselves, are these people we genuinelywant to honor? and that’s a fascinating and important and interesting discussion, andwe can all have differing views about it. you can take the position, for example, istudied calhoun when i was getting my phd at harvard. and judith straw(?), my professor,who was an eastern european jew and refugee, still admired calhoun enormously, even thoughhe was really one of the prime defenders and
articulators of the idea of slavery as a naturalway of american life, because he was also a great democratic theorist, and as you pointout, with concurrent majorities. woodrow wilson is a great, great, towering figure in someways, and an extremely nasty, unrepentent racist in others. jefferson was a slaveholderand the articulator of some of the greatest ideas of liberty and democracy. so, peopleare complicated, and you have to decide, in each case i think you’d have to weigh thebalance. i have a preference for not adopting an orwellian attitude towards one’s past,which is to say, expunging people from the past as if they didn’t exist, but i can alsosee the argument that some people crossed the line at a point at which you just thinkit’s not right to be honoring them. that’s
a great conversation to have. the other setof discussion that have been taking place on college campuses, i have slightly differentviews on, which are, these issues relating to trigger warning, microaggressions, thedesire for some students who say they need safe spaces. sam: everyone’s familiar with those terms? fareed: so, this is an argument that has beentaking place when, for example, at yale, there was an email sent out by the cultural deansaying people should be aware when, coming up on halloween, don’t wear culturally insensitivehalloween costumes, blackface, or indian headdress, i mean, feather-, not dot-indian, in thiscase, which i suppose is itself sort of culturally
insensitive on both counts. sam: i think you better stop right now, fareed.[laughter] fareed: but i think, the answer… a deanat yale, actually the wife of a dean, sent out an email in response to some studentssaying hey, i don’t think we should, as a university, be policing what students arechoosing to wear, this should be a matter of free expression, you know, people havethe right, unfortunately, to be obnoxious if they want. if you don’t like the costume,either tell them you don’t like it, or turn your eyes, avert your gaze. well, this produceda huge controversy, hundreds of students demonstrating, and the argument was, we need safe spaces,we need to have our identity affirmed, not
assaulted. about that, i feel, fundamentally,it’s anti-intellectual. i don’t have any problem with people arguing and saying, i hate yourcostume, here’s why i think you shouldn’t be wearing it. i have no problem with peoplesaying, we need reparationg for slavery, and somebody else saying no. but to argue thatyou cannot understand my pain because you’re not black, hispanic, asian, whatever, is fundamentallyanti-intellectual. college is not really about a safe space, it’s about a common space, aspace you can all engage in intellectually, and frankly it should be a little unsafe intellectually.now, why is this happening? that gets to something very interestingly unsaid. we talked abouthow american high schools were very good at helping people to learn how to live with everyoneelse, they weren’t that good at teaching stuff,
and that’s why you ended up with collegesdoing that. here’s what’s changed about colleges in america, and i noticed this, i was on theyale corporation, the governing body at yale, so i saw this up close. students are arrivingat american universities today coming from far more segregated backgrounds than we realize,probably more segregated than almost at any point in american history, by which i mean,the rich live with the rich, the upper middle class live amongst themselves, the middleclass live amongst themselves, the lower middle class live amongst themselves, and the poorlive amongst themselves. the segregation by income is almost complete. the segregationby political orientation is almost complete. the segregation by race, alas, endures andhas gotten worse.
sam: how long has this been going on? fareed: through the last thirty years, thisis the great rise of inequality and the sorting of americans by political orientiation, andthey’re related phenomena. and the collapse of any effort at fair housing, integratedhousing, things like that. so all that means that when these kids come to american collegecampuses, they are for the first time meeting people who come from very different backgroundsthan they do, and because ivy league colleges in particular have very generous financialaid policies, they really are meeting people who they have never spent any time with before.it’s rich people meeting poor people for the first time, whites meeting blacks for thefirst time, you know. and that is what is
causing a lot of this tension, these peopleare very socially ill-equipped to deal with the incredible diversity of campus life today,and so they are as a result, retreating to a kind of search for a safe space, and theyaren’t finding it. i don’t know what the solution is, because as often happens in america, there’sa problem in american society, and then you expect the school, the high school, or thecollege, to somehow fix it. this is a deeper problem than colleges can fix. and so i havesome sympathy for the students who are searching for that. but ultimately, i still come backto the reality. this is anti-intellectual. you have to be willing to, in some way, defendand articulate the views you have. they may be very strongly held, and they may be verystrongly felt. but if you can’t defend them,
then how are you different from a donald trumpsupporter who says, "all i know is i love trump, and i don’t need to explain to youwhy, and if he says things that are factually wrong, and if he says things… you don’tget it." well, if you attack that kind of anti-intellectualism, you cannot affirm iton a college campus when some hispanic kid says, "you don’t get it, i’m hispanic andyou’re not, you’ll never understand, you’ll never be able to cross that chasm." you haveto be able to cross that chasm. dubois, in one of the most famously quoted passages,says, "i waltz with shakespeare, and he winces not. i summon aristotle and orelius, and theycome to me with no scorn nor condescension." what he’s saying is i, as a black man, canhave access to the greatest that has ever
been written or thought. and that has to bethe spirit, it seems to me, of a liberal education. sam: leon? leon: so, let me try to… i agree on somepoints, and disagree with fareed… number one, the segregation of students is enhancedby the internet, because the internet has turned out not to be a conversation place,but a place where people drift to that which confirms their existing prejudices. so, theinternet is a wonderful thing, i love it, but it is not a tool for democratic conversation.so that, and the other is, that complicates the matter, in terms of confrontation withthings you’re not used to, is that american campuses are far more international. so, there’snot only segregation within american society,
but then the student on the university campusencounters people from places in the world about which they have only read or seen inpictures. now, having said that, let me, in a way, as a devil’s advocate, try to makethe best sense. there’s been so much journalism about this, being against free speech andconfrontation of ideas, so let me put it a different way. and before i do so let me saythat my view is that, very similar to fareed’s on one point. i’m opposed to the falsificationof the past, to the best of our abilities. our view of the past changes. what we evaluate,what we think, but there are certain hard facts that remain. and we have to be candidabout them. so, instead of people removing people’s names, tell the truth. i think ofit from a very narrow perspective, and i apologize.
so if i had to protect myself from anti-semitism,in literature, music, and politics, i’d have very little to play, very little to read,and i wouldn’t live in stuyvesant town, because i would get up in the morning and realize,here was a real anti-semite, and so my point is, and if i actually hadn’t learned to survivemicroaggressions… my mother tells a wonderful story when she was in the seminar with carlgustav jung, in zurich. she was the only jew, and she was already an assistant professor,and she took the seminar especially, and when she made a comment, he would turn and he wouldsay, "you see, that’s jewish way of thinking." she stayed through the whole seminar. now,she didn’t have a lot of respect for jung in the end, but not because of his anti-semitism.she thought most of what he thought was fanciful.
but my point is that what we need to do oncampuses is tell the truth. so, instead of… princeton has been hoisted on its own petard.it has been selling woodrow wilson as emblemantic of how terrific they are, without tellingthe truth about him, which is not very pretty. you know, he was a president of the unitedstates, and he had great things about him, but he became their mascot, if you will, andthey named a college to live in after him, and they named the school of public affairs,well that may be a little bit more legitimate, but they never told the truth the way in amuseum, where you would say… the way i’m inclined, if i have to do a piece by richardstrauss, i’m going to say that he was a collaborator with the nazis. he was a great composer, anda collaborator with the nazis. i’m not going
to hide the fact. when people loved to singcarmina burana, which is official nazi propaganda, but they don’t tell you that, that’s dishonest,that’s airbrushing history. and, so the students are right to say, history has been airbrushed,not to our benefit. as to the safe spaces, there is something to this. so, if you wantto have a real, honest conversation, and what you said is very important, i don’t thinkthere is one way to construe being black, being indian from india, or to be native american,or to be hispanic, or mexican-american. when donald trump talks about mexico, the mostamazing thing is he has no idea what he’s talking about, because mexico is a very complexand very multi-faceted, many different civilizations and cultures, it’s not one thing. so the reductiveuse of identity is so offensive, but the fact
remains that when you go to college and youreally want your ideas to be challenged, that’s very vulnerable. that’s a very vulnerablemoment, when someone says, you’re wrong, and what you believe, and what you learn fromhome, is wrong, or maybe not right, and maybe there is no god, and maybe… so things youconfront, the radical confrontation which you believe, you have to feel assured thatthat attack on what you believe is not personal, it’s not racial, it’s not reductive. thissafe thing, the fact remains that racism is real. we elected an african-american presidentof the united states. but we now, as white people, have resented that he actually hasruled and been a reasonable president. no president has suffered such a opprobrium merelybecause he’s not white. so the fact is the
killing of a lot of black males, brutal killingof black males, is a reaction to this otherwise very positive event. you go to a college campus…i can take anti-semitic humor easily, because i’m white, and in the end, the racists aregoing to come to me after they get to a lot of other people. on the food chain of hatein the united states, i’m pretty low down. so the fact remains that i feel very safe,so, you want to be an anti-semite, be my guest. i was once at a dinner party trying to raisemoney, and the woman said, i don’t want to talk to you, and i said, why, and she said,you’re just a pushy jew, and i don’t like pushy jews, so i said, do me a favor, i’venever had an opportunity to talk to someone who’s a real anti-semite. please tell me whyyou don’t like jews, i would like to learn.
i had the most fascinating conversation ofany dinner party of my life. but i didn’t feel threatened. i didn’t feel threatened.there was nothing she could do to me. if you’re a black student on an american campus, that’snot clear. and you have faculty members who are naturally snobs, so they naturally treatstudents with contempt. the number of great teachers who know how to teach a young novice,and make them feel confident, even though they can do nothing, that’s a gift. now imagineif that novice is black, and you’re white. you don’t even realize, and if you’re a whiteliberal, and you want them to like you, you reduce your expectations and standards. theyread you right away. the worst racists are those that have the rhetoric of, "i’m nota racist." so the fact remains, the safety
issue is not as dumb as it’s been reported.and, finally, as to yale and the costumes. i agree with you that erika christakis didnot deserve what she got for writing. but, i am embarrassed, i have to say, i didn’tsend out an email to bard undergraduates, not to dress up in… because, thank god,our vulgarities are a little different. yale knows its own people, and there probably wasa moment where, on halloween, some lost kids ran around with hacidic garb and bikinis,and they thought that was funny. final anecdote, my first year as a college president, i wasinvited by john kemeny, the president of dartmouth, student of einstein’s, inventor of basic,to the only football game i’ve ever attended, on the 50-yard line, was dartmouth vs. cornell.little did i know that in that time, they
were debating the indian symbol, which hadbeen the symbol of dartmouth. native american indian symbol. and there were alumni, conservativealumni, they were fighting. and he was the president. so i told him, i said, john, whatdo you think of the indian symbol. he said, just wait. came halftime, and a group of mencame out on halftime, dartmouth white wasp guys, dressed in headdresses and tomahawksand bottles, whoopying it up on the 50-yard line, and he said to me, now leon, imaginethat there’s a college some place with a hacid as its symbol, and in the 50-yard line a bunchof people run out in hacidic, with torah scrolls, you know, with bottles of slivovitz and dancingaround, what would you think? i said i would be annoyed. so, let’s not make too much funon this.
sam: two great answers. let me ask one moreof these two very brilliant speakers, and then we’ll go to questions. does that soundgood? are people, sort of, storing them up? or would you rather just hear these two guys…oh is that what you’d rather? no questions? ok. so here’s mine, next one, which is, andleon you kind of touched on this, so i want to hear more about it, but we’ll start withyou again fareed. what makes a really great teacher, and is that different from what mightmake a really excellent scholar? and leon, some of you probably know, as the many creativethings at bard, and one of them is to bring in, what, for lack of a better term, we call’public intellectuals.’ christopher hitchens once said to me, what’s a private intellectual?he certainly wasn’t one… who aren’t necessarily
credentialed scholars, we talked about thisa little bit, and do they develop teacherly skills, or are they inherent? what’s youridea, fareed, of what makes a really good teacher, and might that be separate from theseother qualities we admire in people like yourself, who can do both things, yourselves? fareed: well, i was never a good teacher.everybody who gets phds and then drifts away from academia says, "but i loved teachingthe kids." i didn’t. i enjoyed the seminars, and i enjoyed the lectures, but what i reallyhated was grading. one of the great joys of most of life is when you’re reading somethingbad, you can stop. sam: so that’s freud’s pain and pleasure principle.
fareed: right. if, however, you are grading25 papers, and they’re bad, you can’t stop, in fact you have to read the bad ones morecarefully because you’re going to give them bad grades, and then they’re going to cometo you, and then they’re going to contest the grade with the dean, and so you reallyhave to make sure you spend time figuring it out. sam: but you were also an editor, and hadto do the same thing. fareed: i could reject a piece if it was bad.there was an area of foreign affairs, where you were getting a piece by the secretaryof state types that it fell into that category. you couldn’t quite reject it, but you hadto somehow make it palatable, and those were
the nightmare pieces when i was editing, asyou well know. i’m going to leave it to leon to talk more specifically about what makesa great teacher, because he’s going to be so much more intelligent and articulate aboutit, but let me talk about a piece of it, or look at it from another prism, which is, whatmakes people creative? what makes people innovative? one of the things i worry about in our educationalsystem, and paula and i have three kids, they’re going through the new york city private schoolsystem, and i have to say, basically not to impressed. because there’s an enormous amountof conformity. sam: how old are your kids? fareed: sixteen, twelve, and seven. there’san enormous amount of conformity, it’s like
this factory where you’re on a conveyor belt,you’re being thrown enormous amounts of knowledge, which you’re quickly being asked to assimilate,reproduce on test, and the goal is to get you through this process into a good college,which is really the only goal, as far as i can tell. they couldn’t care less whetheryou like the stuff, you don’t like the stuff. the goal is to get you into a good college.now, what that does is it produces people who are very competent, very bright, workhard, but fundamentally very unlikely to take risks, because taking risks involves potentiallyfailing, and if you fail, you’re going to have a very tought time. when i was on theyale corporation, i asked jeff brenzel, who ran the admissions office, who’s a brilliant,brilliant guy. i said to him, do we ever take
kids who fail in a significant sense in highschool? and he said oh no. i said, but don’t you agree, how you respond to failure is probablyone of the cardinal features of figuring out whether somebody is going to do well in life,it tells you a lot about people. he said, oh yeah. so i said, then what should we do?and he said, well you’re the corporation. you tell me, if you want us to take thosepeople we’ll take them, we will slip on our rankings, we will slip on our win-draw-lossratios with harvard and stanford and princeton, which are the only things that yale reallycares about. we can do it if you want, but that’s what the consequence is going to be.and then you look at what produces… so, what it seems to me, is we’re all producingpeople who are going to end up being corporate
lawyers and bankers, not that there’s anythingwrong with that, but that i think, my point is that they become that because these arelow-risk, high-iq professions where you become the sort of, you become the service classto the plutocracy. you’re not the plutocracy yourself, because that requires taking realrisks, innovating, being creative, being willing to fail, but you become the service classto those people. sam: what a great phrase. fareed: is that really what you should bedoing with this incredible resource of education that you have, and these incredible opportunities?because i think that, you know, we fundamentally misunderstand what it means to be happy, tobe fulfilled, that’s one side of it, but also
to just be creative and innovative. so, weall now think, if everybody does coding, that’d be great. so you go out and get a degree incomputer science, and you go and work at intel, and you will work on some chip, and you’llkeep making it a little bit better. maybe that makes you very innovative and creative,because it sounds cool and you’re in the tech industry, and everyone thinks that that’ssuper cool, but i think the guy whom i regard as more creative from a business point ofview, is this guy who walked into a coffee shop one day and he noticed that you werepaying 50 cents for a cup of coffee, and he said, you know what, i can make you pay sevendollars for the same cup of coffee, and it will totally transform the way you think ofyourself when you enter that store, and you
will thank me for paying seven dollars forthat coffee, and you will think of yourself as a different human being. now, to do that,is to understand human beings much more than it is to understand chips, and that’s whati think our education doesn’t spend enough time trying to teach you to do. sam: leon, what makes a great teacher? leon: before i get to that, i do want to secondfareed’s mistrust of the private schools in new york. so if we were not in a democraticsociety, what i would do was outlaw prviate schools, force the upper middle class backin the public schools, and then the people who really need a good education would getit, because the parents wouldn’t put up with
the mediocrity, and the private schools doa terrible job, particularly in science, where the area of innovation and creativity is absolutelycrucial, misunderstanding of science as facts. so, i don’t have any brief with that. i haveno brief for the admissions policies that are driven by rankings. the admissions policyat a place like yale reminds me of, if you measured hospitals by mortality rates, theway you would have the best hospital is simply admit people who aren’t sick. so, this isan offense to common sense, i agree. so, in answer, very simple, i am a believer in scholarship,you know i edited a scholarly journal, and i believe that real knowledge is about detail.knowing something in real detail. i have great admiration for great scholarship, archivalscholarship, people that do… i have great
admiration for tony grafton. there are historiansand, in my field, the musicologists, that really do the really important, detailed,look at new archival material, that kind of scholarship is indispensible, and you needacademic training for it. the problem is, we have to make the connection between theintellectual tradition and the conduct of life. is the study of philosophy, the studyof literature, the study of history, transformative about the decisions i’m going to make in myprivate and public life, as an individual and as a citizen? is it going to influencethe way i spend my time, what i think about, and what i do and what i choose to do? howdo i act when faced, as a citizen, with the opportunities to exercise or not exercisemy freedoms? so, implicit is a connection
between education and the quality of our democraticand public life. therefore, if you are a great scholar, i believe, you have to ask very bigquestions, and fundamental questions, and you have to be able to communicate the importanceof that question to young people. you have to explain to them why it’s important to knowsomething and to get it right, and to not know what something is, and to pursue or tocontest views that are held. and, in doing so, a great teacher is someone who invitesa new young person into the enterprise without excerising authority, or teaching by fear.and i disagree about the bad papers. i’ve learned more from the mistakes people make,the errors they commit, than from… if i studied closely the work of mozart, and i’ma composer, i would be driven to silence.
but if i look at not such a good composer,i think, i can do better than that. so, a great teacher, i think every day, the lastthing i want to say about great teaching, i am in the work i do because of the teacherswho taught me. if i think back on the great people who took me seriously at an age wherei was obnoxious, insecure, impossible, i wake up and think, those people were saints. so,the idea of seeing possibility in someone, and treating them with dignity and equality,and their capacity, not trying to impress them how much you know. you know, heifetzwas a terrible teacher. someone would play, unlike [inaudible], and then heifetz wouldsay, yeah, and he would tap the [inaudible], and play the same piece much better – thatwas the lesson. whereas kazals(?) would play
with you, and urge you, and stop and lookat what you’re doing, and find ways to fix it, and give you the sense that you couldbe an artist. so, it’s that empathy, and the belief that what you know is transformative,even if it looks entirely irrelevant, and it’s arcane, and the joy of doing it… toomany of our academics don’t actually show the wonderment that they have in the material.i feel privileged. i open up a brahms second symphony, and i have to work with [inaudible]brahms’ second symphony, i died and went to heaven. they know that. they can feel it.i may be a terrible teacher, but they know i care deeply and love the subject, and forme it’s a matter of life and death. so, it’s the empathy, the respect, the presumptionof adulthood, the presumption of competence,
and also, to learn… i don’t mind gradingthe bad stuff. so, great teaching is a real love of subject, and a love of the person,an affection for the communication of it, and the belief that it’s important for theconduct of our collective life. sam: do we have time, andre, for one more?or are we running kind of late here? andre: we’re opening it to the public. sam: oh, we are? ok. andre: let me just say this: two things. thereare microphones on either side of the hall, and so you should ask your question there, and please one more thing, a questionis a desire to get an answer. [laughter] it is not a deliberation, it is not a meditation,it’s not a message.
sam: no filibustering either. andre: so, go ahead sir, you’re the firstone there. audience: thank you. and if i violate yourrules, tell me about that, and tell me to be quicker(?). the thing is that someone observedthat a fish doesn’t realize it’s in water, so i would say that people inside academiamay overlook one problem with liberal education that is easy to see outside. the thing isthat, i think that proof of liberal education is in its perpetuation. what i mean is that,they said in antiquity that a student is not a container to fill with knowledge, it’s atorch to lead. but the trouble is, as soon as a young person leaves academia and getsto the workplace, he gets surrounded by fire
extinguishers. andre: and the question, sir? audience: the question is, whether we don’thave gathering places where those people can continue their liberal education, can do it.so, am i right that there is no such gathering places? and my idea is that groups that can… andre: no, no, no, wait sir, you have to aska question. audience: my question is, confirm whetherwe don’t have such places or have them, and whether a discussion group for serious periodicalsmight be a solution to this problem? that’s all.
leon: so, quickly, there are actually someprograms, the clemente program, that do provide opportunities, and many sectarian groups,churches and synagogues, there’s a lot of adult education, and adult conversation. thereare a lot of opportunities, but i think one thing you said is very interesting. i woulddisagree. i think that something fareed said is true. those of us who actually got, inour opinion, a good education in the university, discovered that when the people came withus with extinguishers, your metaphor, the fire won out, that i owe whatever successi have, from the courage i had to break the rules that they wanted to impose on me. doyou follow me? so, to think for yourself, without cliches, and think independently,and stick by it, is something that does work,
and that has to do with the innovation. fareed: i would add that i actually thinkthat, and this is an area where i’m very hopeful about technology, because i think that onlineeducation, online lectures, you know, just youtube by itself, has produced such an extraordinaryexplosion of knowledge. you are able to watch the greatest lectures in physics, in english,in philosophy, in history, you’re able to interact with people. it’s all in its infancy,and it’s not entirely clear how it will all sort itself out. but i think that we reallyare at the beginning of an extraordinary explosion of access, so that that danger, which i thinkhappens to many people, they feel like they, i’m sure you’ve had friends like this, theyseem very interesting in college, and twenty
years later, they seem to have lost that interest.well, now you can maintain it, you can nurture it, you can cultivate it more easily and morecheaply than ever before. and i think that we’re actually going to see something veryinteresting and important. if you look at coursera and edx, which are the two big onlinecourses, right now about 50% of the people taking those courses are taking essentiallytrade-type courses, you know, introduction to computer programming, and things. but 50%are not. which i regard as enormously hopeful, because it tells you that 50% of the peoplethere are taking classes because they want to know stuff. they want to learn about art,history, culture, music, whatever it is, and so maybe that will mean that you will be ableto keep this idea of a liberal education going
for the rest of your life. audience: thank you. do you mean that socrates- sam: no, sir, somebody else has to have aturn. you sir, gentleman. audience: to what extent is there a properrole for big-time sports at a university? sam: good question. fareed: in my opinion, essentially none. [laughter][applause] i think that what has happened, you know, it’s two-fold. first of all, atmajor universities, what is happening now is scandalous. these large universities areessentially multi-million dollar sports franchises that happen to have a small college attachedto them. they’re really… if you read the
book about the duke hockey scandal, what becomesvery clear in the first twenty pages, is that the hierarchy of power, at a place like duke- sam: now, was that hockey or lacrosse? fareed: sorry, lacrosse. at a place like duke.the hierarchy of power was such that the athletic director and the lacrosse coach were a lotmore important than any of the academic officers involved there. so, this part of is, i thinkscandalous. at the level even of elite colleges. here’s what happens, the problem, which isyou end up recruiting very highly specialized, almost professionalized young student athletes,you drop your standards, whether they’re the right standards or not, but you drop themvery substantially, i can tell you without
question that the single largest drop in averagesat scores to fill a class at any ivy league school is not legacies, it’s not blacks, it’snot hispanics, it is the football team, by far. and, what you do is you crowd out thisvery rich athletic and sports arena for normal students. because you could be a very goodtennis player, you’re not even going to remotely be on the team of any of these places, whichhave selectively recruited quasi-professional tennis players. so, the students i think getshafted both ways – first, they’re getting this group of people who, in my opinion, shouldn’tbe at these universities – sam: and don’t get educated there. fareed: – right, and secondly, you are nowdenied the kind of competitive athletic environment
that people from the time of the greeks thoughtwas a core component to an education. sam: now, i know leon that bard has big-timefootball, basketball programs, so let’s hear your take on it. leon: so, the incident at the university ofmissouri was not a triumph for the conversation about race, it was another triumph for football,because the crisis really caused the turmoil because the football team decided to sidewith one side and the penalty was severe. so, where i think, fareed, i agree with. ithink the really most criminal arm, the smaller colleges and ivy league institutions thatdon’t play really professional sports but act as if they do, where sports is the definingaspect of the culture, and with it fraternities,
the vulgarity of the confusion of the identityof a university with its sports teams, which the alumni are credited with continuing, isan embarrassment to the united states, as one very smart university, state university,president said to the legislature, "don’t you want a university of which the footballteam can be proud?" so, my point is that it is crucial that we return to a greek notionof the relationship of sports and mental activity, in which there is not a gladiatorial romanaspect. and it’s the gladiatorial roman aspect where we are reduced to spectators, watchinga few representing us, in some ridiculous way. so, the way to do it, it’s very importantto have facilities on a campus for exercise, for competitive sports, for team sports, whatpeople learn playing a sport well is usually
important. the problem is that it is an imbalanceemphasis, and it is corrosive not only of the big ten, of stanford, of harvard, of yale,of amhert, but it’s corrosive of smaller colleges – lehigh, lafayette – but, the truth is, wehave the colleges we deserve. i cannot blame the institutions because their support baseis more interested in sports than ideas. more americans are interested in the sports teamsof their high schools than what the students in their high schools learn, public and private. fareed: and we haven’t even talked about theissue of mental damage from football, where you have this extraordinary situation whereuniversities that are meant to be dedicated to the idea of building your brains are celebratingfunding and encouraging an activity which
we now know neurologically destroys your brains. leon: and the way to solve it is for the universitiesto change the rules, and return to playing football without protective gear. and if theyplayed without protective gear, they actually would pay attention. it would look a littlemore like rugby, which is not my favorite sport either, because there’s a lot of injuryin rugby as well. sam: quick question for you both, with a follow-upi think probably. i’m guessing leon will have the sure answer for. first, is there any othernation on the planet that does this? any other country that makes its universities minorleague farm systems? i’ve just never heard of it. and second, given this remarkable andfrightening incidence of brain damage, which
has led some high schools, i think, selectedhigh schools to abandon, stop doing competitive football, will that reach, with all the moneythat’s there, you know the university of missouri, i think it was a million dollars they weregoing to be sued for breach of contract if their team didn’t play the game, which iswhy they caved in, will this concern be great enough to overwhelm the financial interestsin football? fareed: i’ll leave the second part to leon.just one quick thought on the first one. there really isn’t, you know, if you go to germany’sbest university and say, "i want to play football," they’ll say, "great, there’s a sports clubacross the field. best of luck." oxford and cambridge have a slightly different amateursystem, they’re the only ones. but amanda
ripley had a wonderful book about the bestschools in the world, and tried to figure out why american schools were bad, and whatwere the characteristics of some of the best school systems in the world? and what shefound was that, she pointed to one or two characteristics that would really overrideeverything else. one was quality of teachers, you know, if you recruit from the top twentyor thirty percent of the graduating class, no matter what your system was, you endedup having good outcomes. the second was, the absence of this kind of quasi-professionalcompetitive athletics in schools, and that it’s not just a college phenomenon. high schoolsin america are so obsessed with sports, and in that case it comes entirely at the detrimentof academics, because you don’t have this
separate group of people doing it, it’s overlaidonto the entire experience. leon: and this is not to underestimate thevery positive aspects of teamwork, working together, learning a skill, time spent alonepracticing, there are a lot of positive aspects to this sports thing. in answer to your directquestion, sam. so, no, [inaudible] do i know about it, i would suggest there are two outcomes.one, longterm, that football could have the same fate as boxing, which is that finallythe public walks away from the brutality. the other is that the sport reforms itself,in other words, that the sport, i don’t know enough about the sport to know whether thehead-bashing and the kind of damage is a requirement to make the sport exciting. in other words,do the crowds cheer because the gladiator
has to get killed in the ring, or is it theskill of wielding the sword, and that death is not essential? i don’t know enough aboutthe sport. but i do think that – sam: i wanna see that sport! leon: – it could go the way of boxing. andre: we have to ask another question. yes. audience: so we often treat liberal arts andstem separately, and don’t hear much about combining the two. so how do we make surethat science students are getting enough art, and that art students are getting enough science? leon: repeat the question, and speak intothe mic.
audience: sorry. the question is just, howdo we make sure that science students are getting enough art, and that art studentsare getting enough science? fareed: how do you make sure that sciencestudents are getting enough arts, and that art students are getting enough science? howto think about science? look, in my book i try to make this point very centrally, whichis, the word "arts" in liberal arts does not refer to humanities in its origins. it meansarts, as opposed to crafts, as opposed to trades. so, at the core of a liberal artseducation was always a very deep commitment to science. particularly to mathematics, andwhat we would now call physics. so, it is absolutely crucial that it be part of it.it’s absolutely crucial, in a sense, that
we rescue it from being seen entirely in termsof being a trade. i think that’s one of the problems that’s happened, that has befallenscience, which is that people assume, when you’re studying science, you’re doing it becauseyou want to become an engineer and go and work at microsoft. whereas you might be doingit because you think physics is the most fascinating subject in the world, and can explain themysteries of the universe, and that that is actually a more elevated reason to be studyingphysics than because you want to go and work at microsoft. i think it’s certainly truethat humanities students need to learn science more, but most important i think we need tocome back to the idea of studying these subjects because we want to understand the world. we’regoing to have a lot of time to figure out
what to do with jobs, and how to work wellat jobs, and how to train for those jobs. this 18-22-year period is a rare interludewhere you have the time to ask yourself, who am i? what do i think about these big questions?and, they centrally involve science. but it’s very important, i think, that they also bethought of as these big questions, not small ones. leon: so, you put your finger on one of thepractical, the achilles heel of the rhetoric. because, you’re precisely right, there’s noseparation between the sciences and humanities. however, to really get a good, basic generaleducation in science, you have to learn mathematics, and things that take a little bit more time.it’s much easier to bring the humanities to
the scientist than to bring the science tothe humanities. you can teach a very sophisticated shakespeare class to a bunch of physicists.it’s very hard to teach serious physics to a bunch of english majors whose last highschool mathematics was algebra, which they hated, because they were taught by peoplewho didn’t know what they were talking about, so the math anxiety was transmitted from onegeneration to the next. so, the problem is, universities, faculties, especially in thesciences, are jealous of their time, and the last thing they want to do is teach some unwashedartist physics. whereas the artists are only too happy to have a few physicists. maybethey’ll make a lot of money and buy their work. [laughter] so, it’s easier to do theother. so we, as leadership of the university,
we actually force this on our students. everyscience major has to take studio art and make art, and everybody has to take science, bothquantitative science, history of science, and also, there’s a common core on citizenscience, where they actually learn the basic outlines of the scientific enterprise. it’snot popular, but it’s required. and universities are simply too gutless to put in real problemsof general education which bring to the non-scientists a real understanding of the conduct of science. andre: sir? audience: hello. how are you doing? i mustsay, fareed, i was very bothered when you mentioned, saying how students of color arevery anti-intellectual when it comes to wanting
to have conversations, because you might readall the stuff in the news, but then you don’t really know if they’re having conversationson campus. so, i’m wondering if you’ve ever had a thought or to be one to sit down andtalk to students of color, to find out about the work that they do on campus, because comingfrom a poor background myself, having gone to a private, liberal arts college, i knowi led conversations like this on the n-word and stuff like that. so, i think it’s unfairto discredit students like that, seeing all this stuff in the media, but at the same timeyou don’t know what’s actually happening on campus. andre: and the question is?
fareed: no, it’s fine, i get it. audience: i gave the question, you must havemissed it. andre: i might have, yes. fareed: the gentleman asked if i had spenttime talking to students of color on campuses to try to understand what it was that wasdriving their concerns. so, the first thing i’ll point out to you if you don’t mind isi am actually a student of color myself. audience: of course, i know that. fareed: so, you know, unless you have a veryrestrictive definition of what that means, i was, when i was an undergraduate, when iwas in graduate school, i was usually the
only person of color in every class i evertook. i was certainly the only person from india. i think yale had three students fromindia when i was there. and i was almost always the only muslim in any class i ever took.so, i am familiar with what it feels like to be an outsider in those circumstances.the point i was making was actually not about students of color. the point i was makingwas that anyone who is participating in a discussion who says, "i can’t have this conversationwith you because, since you do not share my ethnic, racial, or religious background, youwon’t understand," is being anti-intellectual, and the point i was making was whether that’sa trump supporter who, as a matter of fact will tend to generally be white, or a hispanickid at a college, it’s the same thing. you
have to be willing to engage, you have tobe willing to communicate your outrage, your pain, your anger, and be willing to hear somebody’scounter-argument. look, we’re going through one of the great moments of what i would describeas bigotry right now, with regards to anti-muslim rhetoric. i don’t think as a result of that,people should shut up. i think people should say what they want to say, and people on theother side should try to counter, as i do, and explain why they’re wrong. i don’t thinkthe answer to that is for there to be a censorship on these issues. i think the answer is tohave an honest, engaged, passionate conversation. sam: let me just say one thing. i think ifi understand, a point you also made was that you’re saying those conversations are goingon on campuses, is that right? and that there’s
a misrepresentation maybe in much of the media,that people are being shut down, or that conversation doesn’t happen, when in fact often it does,is that right? leon: yeah, but, i think the gentleman isright, but i think fareed does speak about a phenomenon on campus which is, i think,a marginal phenomenon and has been exagerrated. there are people who argue that i should beprotected from things that will offend me. there are people who think that is right.as opposed to saying, look, to make the person learn how to deal with those. so, if you encounteranti-indian, or anti-muslim sentiment, you are prepared to counter it, to deal with it,or to shut it out. i was observed as a guest at a college, a very fine, very famous college,a discussion of trigger warnings. and the
subject was, chemistry. that, should a veteranof a war be alerted ahead of time that the class would have explosions because the explosionmight trigger post-traumatic distress memories. fascinating. now, on the face of it, you canunderstand, it probably makes sense to tell the veterans – are there any veterans here?- this is a class where there will be a lot of explosions. but if you want to study chemistry,you cannot avoid explosions. so, basically, as opposed to, delete the explosions fromthe curriculum. you see, that’s the issue. and our job is to make the student able toconfront the reality in the world where there are people who are going to be prejudiced,they’re going to be hostile, there are going to be people who think you’re wrong, and peoplewho think not only that you’re wrong, that
you’re a heretic, and how you intellectuallysustain that conversation, how you unravel the other person’s argument, and those conversationson campus are good conversations. sam: and are there many at bard? is this anissue of any kind, would you say? leon: yes and no. i think, you know, unfortunately,the most common thing on american campus is staying out of the fray. what’s good aboutthe current is that it has involved more students than have been involved in a long time, incertain kinds of discussions, but most people don’t tell you what they really think. fareed: i’ll tell you what is the real embattledminority on collge campuses, is conservatives. there are virtually no conservatives, on thefaculty, in the administration, and among
students, and to the extent they exist, theydo experience a hostile atmosphere, both from the professors and from their fellow students.they’re the ones who need special deans and special programs. leon: there, actually, there is a lot of politicalcorrectness. so, the program we do that tries to, is we have the institution that we tryto do the most exchanges is with west point. because what our undergraduates need to meetis their contemporaries of the same age, who have chosen a radically different path. sam: let me give a brief example, an experiencei had with students. one of my colleagues at the new york times, when i was there, andjust for the record, i left the times about
a year ago, was the columnist frank bruni,whom some of you may read, and he had taught a course at princeton, and he brought in agroup of students. he was doing one of these special classes princeton has where journalistsoften, it’s a writing class, meet with a small group of students. it’s a seminar that lastsa semester. he, frank in this case, was doing, he used to be a food critic, dining critic,some of you may remember, before he became a columnist, and so they wrote food reviews.but he also wanted to introduce them to other forms of journalism, and asked me to meetwith them, and they came into the times, because as it happens, i write a fair amount aboutconservative politics, and he thought it would be interesting for them to hear about this.so, at the time, i was working a very long
project with a great colleague at the times.we did it together. it was a long story on rand paul, if you remember him, he was supposedto be frontrunner for the presidency a couple of years ago. so, one or two of the studentsin the group, there were about a dozen, they came into the new york times and went up tothe editorial page on the thirteenth floor, met in a conference room there, asked a littlebit about rand paul, and what i thought of him, and about his ideology, his libertarianideology and all the rest, and then afterwards i felt embarrassed in the way that we olderpeople sometimes will, because i had not thought to ask him why he was interested in this,because it seemed so unusual. and so, i sent a note to frank, and said, i felt bad aboutthis, i would have liked to know why, as it
happened, these two students, undergraduates,probably twenty years old, were interested in libertarianism and rand paul. and frank’sresponse was, you know what, it was just as well, they never would have spoken up andtold you because it’s not polite to talk about politics at princeton. so people don’t dothat. and the conversation actually doesn’t happen so much as you might think. and i thinkparticularly when it touches on these conservative topics. andre: we have one last question. audience: oh my, that’s a great privilege.i’d like to go back to the matter of high school, which seems to be the real undersideof the whole education. a friend who taught
english in public schools on long island oncecommented, the problem with the public schools is that they’re public, and what she meantby that was, all the other things that flood young people’s minds, etc., and keep themdistracted. then i learned here, from the first time, the problem with the private systemin new york city, and probably everywhere. so, would you comment on this problem somemore, which is an enormous problem? leon: so, i didn’t quite understand the public-private…so the problem is with the way the culture deals with the traditions of learning andthe coming of age in adolescence. that’s at least my opinion. so, for whatever reason,that we do not put in front of young people, except maybe in sports, where this works,in music, a little bit, and in dance, at margins,
very talented kids, or kids in mathematics,chess, there are pockets where this happens, but by and large, when a person begins topresume his or her adulthood, either by maturation, is targeted by companies as a consumer, hasa lot of freedom of movement, that person is then treated like a child and does notencounter someone they can look up to who knows how to do something, or really has,kind of, the ability at a very vulnerable age, to make them excited about the conductof science, about the natural world, about literature, and we do not put in front ofthem in our schools people who are capable of doing that, and that’s true in the privateschools, and it’s true in the public schools. and, the culture, the definition of manhood,and of femininity, is separated from the life
of the mind. so, i finally saw one holllywoodfilm, this film martian, in which actually the scientists were regular people, unlikethat impossible big bang theory thing, in which the scientists, all presumably at caltech,are horrific charicatures of moronic… and the only nice person is an absolutely dumbblonde. so they are reinforcing the worst stereotypes. so if you are a vulnerable maleadolescent in a public school, and you’re interested in ideas, and not football, andnot sports, and you’re a girl and you don’t know how to act and show your incipient adulthood,and it’s not about your looks and your beauty and your makeup and whatever it is, or thegossip, or the dating, but it is through learning to do things and think about things, we inthe culture have this streak of anti-intellectualism,
and we don’t reward it. so the schools arehelpless when adolescence comes in, and they can no longer command by authority over littlechildren, and the authority has to be in the substance and character of what they do, andthe creation of a peer group value cultural system, is as important as whom they go toschool with. so, the fact remains that we could do it, because the age group can soakit up fantastically, and we lose, and the problem is it begins in middle school. andre: one last question. you’ve been standingup there a long time. audience: thank you very much for taking myquestion. dr. zakaria, you cited the quality and competitiveness of teachers in finlandas distinct from the asian educational system,
and dr. botstein, you pointed to the weaknessof the american high school system, paradoxically stacked in favor of wealthier communities,and the property taxes held by those communities. a good schoolteacher is invariably steepedin a strong liberal arts education, but to go along with that education in the midstof higher eductation costs, that students are really struggling with as they get totheir senior year in high school, and families are struggling with that. how do you makea liberal education something appealing and useful so that when they get out of college,they don’t feel completely overwhelmed by debt? there’s a balance that’s off here. leon: the facts are, unfortunately, not onyour side. college is actually, because of
financial aid, cheaper, on the average, thanit was ten years ago. second of all, the employment and unemployment rates for liberal arts graduatesare actually pretty impressive, and the amount of loans are much lower than the kind of politicaldiscussion is. i think we fail to finance our education properly, you’re right aboutthat. i don’t think college is too expensive. nobody in any university is getting rich.at a time when the inequality of wealth is as obscene as it is, to complain about theuniversity, and the university is inefficient because the university has to be inefficientto do what it does. inefficiency is part of its virtue. you don’t know which scientistis going to get the breakthrough ahead of time. you have to have a lot of them who arehitting their heads against dead ends. but,
i don’t assume, your question assumes fromthe start that we have to persuade you that the liberal arts are relevant. what we representby the liberal arts is the tradition of knowledge and inquiry, and the mode of intellectualthought which has actually created whatever can be construed as progress in civilization. audience: specifically in the context of generatingquality high school teachers. leon: in the quality of high schools, we’redoing compensatory work. so, your question is probably, from my point of view, apt. becausewhat we’re in the business, i believe, now this is a different subject, that we coulddo what we do in college earlier. i would get rid of the american high school. [murmur]
fareed: again, here, i think that there isa big shift that is probably about to take place. i think it’s true what leon says, thatif you look at elite colleges, and the financial aid packages they have, and student loan packagesthey have, you know, college is this very extraordinary thing where you have a bizarreway of charging for the product. what other product is billed this way? you go to a cardealer and you say, "i want to buy a car," and you say, "how much does it cost?" andthe car dealer will say to you, "give me your last three years income tax forms, and i willfigure out the price just for you." right? so, there is an exquisite pricing, which somepeople might call cartel policies or whatever, so there is a very weird way that collegesare priced, it’s certainly true that if you
look at education costs in general, they havegone up well over inflation. education and healthcare have both gone up well in excessof inflation, largely because you have very complicated systems, partly because what leonwas saying, you do need some inefficiency, you know. it takes four people twenty minutesto play a mozart string quartet, as it did three hundred years ago, and there are certainthings you can’t get efficiencies there. but i do believe where you are going to get atransformation is again the way technology is going to have an impact. what does theinternet and technology do more than anything else? it unbundles bundled products, so thatthings that you used to have to buy all together, you can start buying separately. so, i thinkthat some of the things we’ve been talking
about are going to turn into real live experiments.so, you don’t want the sports? well, guess what, there will be ways that you can accesselements of a liberal arts education, without the sports. you won’t be able to get all ofit, because you won’t get the college, you know, the personal flavor, but there are places,minerva is a place on the west coast, which is trying to provide some of that, so thatthere will be in-room classes, people sitting down together, using some online material,but no sports team, no extra-curriculars and such. there will be some pure online education.but the effect of these things is also will be to force colleges to ask themselves, whatdo i do really well? because we can’t all do everything. and so if you are a place likebard, and i mean this genuinely, which has
created a truly unique experience, where beingthere physically is regarded by almost everybody who goes there as well worth it, you’re goingto be fine. but if you’re in a very different situation, and you’re charging about the sametuition as bard, maybe you’re not going to be able to do that. and that process of sortingitself out i think has just begun. so colleges will have to ask themselves, what are youreally good at? if you are really good at providing the in-person, social-communal educationexperience, you’re going to be fine. if you’re really good at the brand, you know, harvard,yale, princeton will be fine, because there essentially, you’re paying membership to joina country club, because you want to meet the other members of the country club. that’swhat you think you’re getting there. they’ll
be fine. but what about the places that, justfor simplicity’s sake are 100 or 150 on the u.s. news and world report list, and chargeabout the same tuition. that seems to me highly unlikely to be sustained, and most importantly,what is going to change is that somebody is going to go to proctor and gamble five yearsfrom now and say, i did not have any, neither the education nor the background, to go toa good college, but i have taken thirty-six classes at coursera and edx and whatever,and here are my diplomas, and i have constructed, essentially, a liberal arts education formyself, and it cost me four thousand dollars over three years. would you hire me? thatwill be the moment when the pricing power of colleges changes. because why are theyable to do what they do? because employers
regard them as a very efficient sorting mechanismfor hiring. so that it’s much easier than going around looking at every 25-, 22-year-oldin america, to look at graduates from harvard, princeton, yale, etc., etc. so, once thatstarts to change, what happens at those universities? what are they required to ask? i would hope,the good case scenario here, is that you return to a focus on education as opposed to thebrand, as opposed to the football team, as opposed to the college you come from, andif that happens, then the technology will have played a useful role. in some ways, itreturns you to something that always existed. leon: so, i’m going to say something outrageous,if you don’t mind. number one, the net cost to the consumer for college, despite the stickerprice, has gone down. two, even at the full
sticker price, it’s an unbelievable bargain.thirty weeks, housed and fed, with a health club, endless entertainment, a wide varietyof potential social partners, and unlimited access to the full-scale knowledge of thenatural world from the genome to the bible. and, if you amortize that over thirty weeks,and you try to unbundle that – join a health club – fareedi don’t know what health clubs you’rejoining, but there are a lot cheaper than that. leon: – check into a motel, have three weeks,and hire as tutors all of the potential entertainment which we call the faculty, and all the extra-curricular,like in an assisted-living home, all the other
entertainments you have, the glee club, andthe orchestra, it’ll cost you more than the sticker price of the university. [laughter] andre: sam, do you want to say something? sam: yeah, i just want to quote a couple ofsentences here from barzin(?) in 1968, just to show you how little things have changed.he says, he writes about loans: "a survey at one university showed that some 75% ofthe undergraduate body took out loans in the form of deferred tuition payments. of those75%, 80% defaulted at the first payment." [laughter] andre: thank you very, very much for beinghere. thank you again.