ABSTRACT

As higher education seeks to define and justify itself in a “post-pandemic” world, it is important to understand the role of centripetal and centrifugal forces. The centrifugal approach suggests engagement facing outward and away from the classroom, from curricula, and from campus in favor of service learning, internships, political involvement, and other similar activities. While valuable, such efforts risk neglecting classroom, curriculum, and campus. However, a (re)turn inward, with a purely centripetal focus, is neither satisfactory nor possible. This article argues that higher education (and society) is optimally served by uniting the best of General Education (as experienced through classroom pedagogy of its curriculum) and outward-facing engagement efforts. The author offers the pedagogical program (paideia) of Greek rhetorician Isocrates as a model of such an approach, given the significant duration of time (years) and sequence required to complete it, and since it was seen as both successful and enjoyable for/by its students. General Education in this model embraces not a banking pedagogy but the “not-yetness” of students and teachers alike, and in contrast to the metaphors of the ivory tower and the laboratory, the article offers an alternative, drawn from Jeffrey Walker’s description of the Isocratean paideia: the sweet garden.

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