How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy

The Closing of the American Mind 
Allan Bloom



“Educate then at any rate; for the age of implicit self sacrifice and instinctive virtue is flitting away from us, and the time is fast approaching when freedom and public peace, and social order itself will not be able to exist without education”.

This was the advice that Alexis d' Tocqueville was giving to the American society at the beginning of the 19 century.   When reading through his book “Democracy in America “it is difficult not to see parallels between American society in the 1800′s and the America of today. Even though he does not make clear reference to public education, his words emphasize the importance of education in sustaining a democratic society.
First it should be defined if the basic premise is correct: had education been a failure? The answer should be “yes” since many voices talk about a “lack of interest”, “fake education” or a “lack for thirst for knowledge”. Now the real question is: whose fault is it? Is the society? The students? The democratic values?
A paradoxical aspect of Bloom's book is that he deals with all this notions in explaining the failures in educational field.
“In high school I had seen many of the older boys and girls go off to the state university
to become doctors, lawyers, social workers, teachers, the whole variety of professions respectable in the little world in which I lived. The university was part of growing up, but it was not looked forward to as a transforming experience—nor was it so in fact. No one believed that there were serious
ends of which we had not heard, or that there was a way of studying our ends and determining their rank order. In short, philosophy was only a word, and literature a form of entertainment.”[1]
In his words from the famous work “The Closing of the American Mind ”, Allan Bloom confess his disappointment regarding the educational aims of his colleagues: a...