By Dean Kallander,

I read the editorial staff’s comments about the Miami Plan and have some observations.  When you write about developing a craft and being bored by having to take courses in areas you’re not interested in, I realized we are continuing to struggle with issues that go back many decades.  The responses of the staff reflects a view of the university as, in fact, a trade school where you learn a trade or craft.  You want your University to offer courses grouped around key areas, like the environment, to the exclusion of other areas.  In Europe the educational system divides students early in their schooling into those taking a trade school path and those going to a university.  Our egalitarian society merged those two and turned universities into both trade schools and higher education.  We have a school of Applied Engineering, a Business School and a School of Education, all basically trade schools. In the early 20th Century, those wanting to teach could attend a two year normal school and receive a certificate to teach.  These were expanded into four year colleges and then universities. Shouldn’t a university be more than a trade school?  

You objected to taking classes in geology. Yet, some 30 percent of American people believe in creationism, and some 43 percent believe human beings arrived on this planet just 10,000 years ago. Shouldn’t college students know the history of the planet, or how can you call yourself educated?  

David Brooks wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times on friendship and referred to Aristotle, Cicero and Montaigne.  Do Miami graduates know and have read these people?  What about Dante, Voltaire and Rousseau? Should they?  

My cousin, who is a graduate of a MAC school in Business, is now one of the vice presidents of an international corporation with a seven figure salary.  He was in London for meetings and had a weekend free.  He reported that he was bored because he didn’t know what to do with himself, and stayed in his hotel room to
watch TV. 

If you call yourself educated over just being trained, shouldn’t you have a breadth of educational experiences where knowledge dispels boredom?  

Your staff argued basically for Miami to be a trade school.  I would argue that it should be a university with a requirement for a broad range of courses which would enable students to integrate their knowledge so they can understand humanity.  If not, then it’s simply a trade school and doesn’t deserve to be called a Public Ivy.