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IPFS News Link • Education: Colleges and Universities

I am exhausted from Watching the West Self-destruct

• https://www.paulcraigroberts.orgPaul Craig Roberts

The report provides a thorough report on everything associated with the college and present and past members as reported during the year. For example, undergraduate performance and prizes, publications and awards of faculty, concerts, the performance of the various sports teams, social events, reports of marriages, deaths, births, remembrances from past graduates, photographs of the college, gardens, and members, and books on the library's shelves as if to say that here at Merton we still have the timeless products of Western Civilization in print form on library shelves instead of online somewhere in the cloud. In the current issue, those still alive who attended JRR Tolkien's lectures provide their memories of this remarkable scholar of ancient languages and storyteller (The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings). It all reminds us that at Merton some semblance, some remnant of Britain's ancient lineage lingers still among the tower of babel England has become.

No doubt the expense and effort to which the college goes to remain in touch with past members–all of whom compose The Merton Society–has in mind bequests. Little doubt Merton graduates attribute part of their success in life to the preparation that Merton gave them. So the large expense of the preparation and distribution of this report is justified. But for my generation and perhaps the one following I wonder about the impact of the report. Clearly, for my generation the collage is no more. It is simply there only in the buildings and memories. The college is no longer a men's college. Gowns no longer exist. Merton even has female Wardens (presidents). As far as I can tell, and I am unsure, Oxford colleges are now organized like American colleges where students take courses and are graded on the course and graduate when they complete the designated course requirements.

In my day there were no courses and no course requirements. Unlike the US, a bachelor's degree was a three, not a four-year, process. A student selected a field–mathematics, science, history, literature, languages, classics, PPE (philosophy, politics, and economics–imagine an American student learning all three in three years!) and was assigned a tutor by the college. The student was handed a reading list and encouraged to attend lectures on his chosen field of study. Lectures were provided by lecturers, senior lecturers, (`I am unsure if Oxford had the next rank, readers, or whether these were only at the "red brick universities") and professors. If memory serves, in the entirety of Oxford colleges there were only two professors of economics. One was a theorist John R. Hicks, and the other, John Jewkes, was an empirical economist who was a member of Merton.


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