After reading Mark Edmundson's piece, "On the Uses of a Liberal Education," I have arrived at the conclusion that he is somewhat of an extremist. Although he makes many valid points and states them in a most erudite manner, he crosses what I consider to be a fine line between making a valid point and extending that point to an extreme from which there seems to be no return.
Right off the bat, Edmundson gives away some of his inner feelings about his students and give us a peak into his extremist mentality. He begins to make his point about commercialization of universities by describing a situation in which "[the students] are toiling away like the devil's auditors" (Edmundson, 96). Mr. Edmundson continues to make his point by calling the students "informed consumers" (Edmundson, 96), and inferring that they are acting exactly like consumers in a natural economy. Although this inference has some validity to it, I most certainly disagree with it, and will attempt to explain why I feel this way.
Edmundson complains that the students do not really pay attention in class and are interested only in the " affability and the one-liners- (Edmundson, 97). This assumption is based solely on interpretation of the student's reactions to the lecture or discussion given in class. It is quite obvious that here, Edmundson lets his personal feelings cloud his judgment since he personally thinks that these students are ungrateful for the knowledge that they have received. Edmundson bases his judgment on his observations of the reactions coming from his students. He takes the reactions of one or two people and 1) interprets them in a negative manner (such as a yawn taken to be extremely offensive) and 2) exaggerates their offense and makes it out to be like the whole class is mocking him. Furthermore, it would be most gullible to imply that students are, for the most part, lazy and lack the ability to pay attention in class; if this were truly the case, they would not be able to maintain good grades in school.