The loss of great literature in the schools and its replacement with something that is manifestly not great—and is meant in fact to put an end to the very idea of greatness—is no academic matter. As Plato taught us long ago, whoever controls the stories, what today we call “the narrative,” of any society, will inevitably control the society. If we give up our stories, we lose our surest means of teaching young people what is truly good and true and beautiful; we lose the best way of teaching them how to be human. Should we give that up because self-appointed educational experts apparently don’t know how to talk about a great book when it is put in front of them?
It all started during a golf outing on the plush courses of northern Maine (summer, I presume) among Bowdoin president Barry Mills and Thomas Klingenstein, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute, that I guess Mills would like to have back. That day at the links, or rather Mills’ public recollection of it, launched a National Association of Scholars’ 363 page study of the curriculum and education offerings of Bowdoin College.