Perhaps we might consider some alternative or comparative visions–


Potential Goals of an Academic Program

Critical thinking skills: the ability to grasp ideas quickly…

The ability to read: …to cultivate the art of thoughtful, patient, critical reading.

The ability to speak: …students should be able to discuss complex topics in clear, organized, and accessible language…

The ability to listen: … to understand where different people are coming from, to find a grain of truth in different or even clashing perspectives, and formulate opinion

The ability to write: …students should be able to articulate their thoughts in writing in a clear and simple way… to …lay out an argument in a coherent sequence of steps[,] … not simply as an academic exercise but as a means [to] comprehend and discover,  what is true and what really matters.

Leadership skills: …to foster the qualities essential to leadership: to be organized; to … see things that need to be done and to initiate projects to do them…

Appreciation:  … of different modes of inquiry and different kinds of knowledge (humanities, social and natural sciences);  of different modes of creative endeavor (writing, painting, sculpting, music, cooking);  of different modes of vocational and recreational endeavor (horsemanship, mechanics,  sailing).


How would Williams fare, if the above were the criteria upon which its Accreditation Committee judged it?

(from:)  Goals of the Deep Springs Academic Program (adopted 2004)

Critical thinking skills: the ability to grasp ideas quickly, to synthesize different pieces of information into a comprehensive view of a topic, to ask incisive questions, to see connections between different topics, to think through the premises and implications of different arguments, and to understand how ideas and arguments apply (or fail to apply) to the real world.

The ability to read: We want students to cultivate the art of thoughtful, patient, critical reading. Students should be able not only to grasp the manifest senses of a text, but also to see and explicate implicit levels of meaning, and to look for the basic assumptions of a text and the limitations of its vision.

The ability to speak: Deep Springs students should be able to discuss complex topics in clear, organized, and accessible language, and to translate theoretical discourse and technical terminology into plain English without being reductive or simplistic. Deep Springers should work towards becoming fluent in a number of different academic dialects so that they can speak to others in the others’ language.

The ability to listen: the ability to understand where different people are coming from, to find a grain of truth in different or even clashing perspectives, and formulate opinion that both encompasses and transcends a number of incompatible points of view. Students should be willing and able to understand different academic languages in their own terms.

The ability to write: Deep Springs students should be able to articulate their thoughts in writing in a clear and simple way. They should be able to write papers laying out an argument in a coherent sequence of steps. Above all we want students to come to use writing not simply as an academic exercise but as a way for them to work out their own understanding of what is true and what really matters.

Leadership skills: Deep Springs strives to foster the qualities essential to leadership: to be organized; to be able to see things that need to be done and to initiate projects to do them; to be able to delegate tasks and make sure they got done.

Appreciate different modes of inquiry and different kinds of knowledge in the humanities, social sciences, and the natural sciences.

Appreciate and participate in different modes of creative endeavor: writing, painting, sculpting, music, cooking etc.

Appreciate and participate in different modes of vocational and recreational endeavor: horsemanship, mechanics etc.

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