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Excerpt: "College is a rich part of the Western cultural imagination and a canonized plot line in the American middle-class mythos. Although it is costly and time-intensive, there are good reasons to be proud of this tradition and to go away for four years to become adults. After all, college leaves an indelible stamp on the soul: the formative lessons of newfound independence, hard work, and leisure in preparation for the business of life. Few institutions have more nostalgic and patriotic bonds of affection that last as long-and procure as many donations- as college and university alumni associations. Americans talk and think about college all the time. Americans eagerly read the U.S. News & World Report's college rankings-despite criticisms about its validity-as a way of dreaming of the future and measuring oneself against the world. Many Americans begin saving when their children are born. Many stay up late worrying about their kindergartener's grades and violin lessons. Many spend thousands of dollars on college prep tests and campus visits for their high schoolers."


Originally published as chapter one in On Education, Formation, Citizenship and the Lost Purpose of Learning by Joseph Clair, Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.

ISBN: 9781501326158