In an essay that sparked a social media firestorm on Wednesday afternoon, conservative political and social commentator Heather Mac Donald crucified Andover in an essay for continuing to liberalize and modernize the contents of its academic program.
In her piece, Mac Donald seized on CAMD Scholar research that Nikita Singareddy ’13 presented to the school last week. At the crux of her essay, Mac Donald insisted that Singareddy, and all students at the high school level, have no business investigating modern sociological problems. Rather, Mac Donald says, students should focus on the classic liberal arts core: history, western literature, poetry, art and the like. Rather than sponsoring student brainwashing under the guise of research, says Mac Donald, Andover ought to dedicate its resources to grounding students in the traditional liberal arts.
In a modernizing and globalizing world, Mac Donald’s view fails to recognize the broad benefits that independent research and study outside the traditional liberal arts provide to Andover students. Andover proactively offers students opportunities to analyze social issues or historical issues from a modern viewpoint. CAMD Scholarships and Brace Fellowships offer student researchers a chance to learn away from campus and offer the entire Academy a new window into realities of the larger world. The Justice, Law and Tyranny seminar this fall asked students to synthesize information from across disciplines, time periods and schools of thought, while the Abbot Global Seminars pair classroom study with real application on a larger scale. These programs all exist outside of the traditional educational thinking.
Adaptable perspectives have an undeniable place in an Andover education. Curriculums should be broad and inclusive. Independent research has a niche to fill.
The traditional liberal arts education still has a crucial role to play in educating the Andover student, having prepared generations of students for success. The classical cannot be forgotten, but Mac Donald’s hardline thesis that Andover should drop its research programs and its espousing of liberal ideas far oversteps the educational model that Andover ought to support.
This Editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXV.