SCHOOL is one of the three great wellsprings from which young people gain a broad system of personal values, church and family being the two others. Ours is an age in which short-term bursts of information put forth in the electronic media have a disproportionate influence on contemporary thinking. It is important that adults have exposure to the best of mankind's thinking throughout the ages, as one measure by which they can assess new ideas, some worthy but others merely fads masquerading as substance.
That is why college students ought to be exposed to a broad range from our cultural heritage - in philosophy, government, history, literature. In its new study the National Endowment for the Humanities rightly points to the serious deficiencies along that line in the education offered by the majority of American colleges. Students can get a bachelor's degree from 75 percent of them without studying European history, and from 72 percent without American history or literature.
The problem is not new; many colleges have begun again to require some core courses. Few, however, have returned to the days of the 1950s, when most sought to give broad exposure to Western heritage through a core curriculum. That approach was fine as far as it went, but too often it omitted the best of mankind's thinking in other parts of the world.
It is a reponsibility of colleges to give students exposure to the very best ideas and writings from their heritage.