A Liberal Education? Not According to Cronon. A Critical and Rhetorical Analysis of Cronon's Only Connect.
While the term liberal education is heard from the most prestigious university to an inner city community college, the phrase itself has a hazy definition at best. While educators across America struggle with the definition of the phrase, William Cronon uses purpose, structure, and appeals in his essay "Only Connect: The Goals of Liberal education," to define a liberally educated being and the characteristics that such an education should impart. Cronon capitalizes on inductive structuring to lead the reader along, gently building each new statement upon a foundation of previous ideas. This effectively leads the reader to a strange and new concept that a liberal education should nurture the human mind and inspire students to have love for their fellow humanity.
One purpose of Cronon's essay is to emancipate the phrase liberal education from the debates and misconceptions that have swirled around the words since their creation while also inspiring educators to embody a teaching philosophy that attempts to create a spiritual love for those around them.
While having no definition himself, Cronon states that he is able to answer his question with "a list [...] of personal qualities: the ten values [he] most admire[s] in the people who seem to embody the values of a liberal education"(159). He wishes to move away from the "mantra-like"(156) and "empty"(156) definition that these words hold to a more functional, working explanation of a liberal education. Cronon's list of characteristics provides the reader with a plausible understanding of a liberal education. While Cronon is unable to define a liberal education, he is competent in defining what a liberal education produces. By admitting that he is unable to define a liberal education and instead focusing on the...