Columbia’s Prof. Roosevelt Montás on the Great Books & a Liberal Arts Education

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+


This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Professor Roosevelt Montás, Director of the Freedom and Citizenship Program at Columbia University, and author of the book, Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation. Professor Montás shares his background as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who attended Columbia, and what inspired his appreciation for the Great Books tradition. He explains the deep connection between philosophy, liberal learning, and a good life, why this tradition matters for advancing liberal education, and its implications for K-12 students in a world that is increasingly centered on technical skills, and that has become overly politicized. They delve into lessons from works like Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, about how literature and art can ennoble our young people and elevate our democratic ideals. Professor Montás concludes with a reading from his book.

Stories of the Week: Chronic absenteeism, or missing more than 10 percent of the school year, has likely increased dramatically since the pandemic, and can lead to increases in school-related stress, social isolation, and decreased motivation, all of which contribute to behavior problems. Veterans Affairs officials will now receive greater authority to adjust funding for housing, work-study programs and other education benefits for students relying on the GI Bill, after the COVID-era shift to online-only classes prompted stipend reductions and emergency legislation.

Guest:

Roosevelt Montás is Director of the Freedom and Citizenship Program. He was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New York as a teenager. He attended public schools in Queens and was admitted to Columbia College in 1991 through its Opportunity Programs. He graduated from Columbia in 1995 with a major in Comparative Literature. In 2003, he completed a Ph.D. in English, also at Columbia, where he began teaching in the faculty of the English Department in 2004. From 2008 to 2018, he served as Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Columbia College. Roosevelt specializes in Antebellum American literature and culture, with a particular interest in American national identity. His dissertation, Rethinking America, won Columbia University’s 2004 Bancroft Award. In 2000, he received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student and in 2008, he received the Dominican Republic’s National Youth Prize. He regularly teaches moral and political philosophy in the Columbia Core Curriculum as well seminars in American Studies. Roosevelt speaks widely on the history, place, and future of the humanities in the higher education and is the author of Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation.

The next episode will air on Weds., January 11th, with Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris.

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:

How Often Can Your Child Be Absent from School? | K-12 Schools | U.S. News

https://www.usnews.com/education/k12/articles/how-often-can-your-child-be-absent-from-school

Vet’s Admin. to get new authority over education benefits for future emergencies

https://www.militarytimes.com/education-transition/2022/12/29/va-to-get-new-authority-over-education-benefits-for-future-emergencies/

Get new episodes of The Learning Curve in your inbox!

Recent Posts:

Lance Izumi on How Charters Are Meeting Diverse Learning Needs

/
Happy New Year! This week on "The Learning Curve," Cara and Bob talk with Lance Izumi, Senior Director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute, about his new book, Choosing Diversity.

Will Fitzhugh on the Enduring Relevance of History Research & Writing

/
Will Fitzhugh, founder and editor of The Concord Review, an international journal that has published high school students’ history essays for 30 years, joins "The Learning Curve" this week.

Joy Pullmann on the Fallout from Common Core

Joy Pullmann, executive editor of The Federalist, talks with The Learning Curve about the mediocre NAEP and PISA results, after a decade of the Common Core national education standards and the failed experiment with federal involvement in standards, curricula, and tests. They also discuss social emotional learning, parental involvement, and the media’s coverage of K-12 education policy issues.

This Week on The Learning Curve: E.D. Hirsch, Jr. on Background Knowledge & Educational Equity

/
This week on "The Learning Curve," Professor E.D. Hirsch, Jr., founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation, professor emeritus at UVA, and acclaimed author, discusses a critical ingredient of academic achievement, the shared background knowledge needed for language proficiency and cultural literacy.

Steven Wilson on Anti-Intellectualism in K-12 Education

/
Co-host Bob Bowdon talks with Steven Wilson, Founder and former CEO of Ascend Learning, a charter school network in Brooklyn, New York. They discuss the emergence of anti-intellectualism in K-12 schooling.

Jason Bedrick on Religious Freedom & Private School Autonomy

/
Bob and Cara talk with Jason Bedrick, EdChoice’s director of policy, about New York’s controversial “substantial equivalency” proposal that would give the state Department of Education oversight of school curricula at yeshivas and other private and parochial academies.

Dr. Lindsey Burke on LBJ’s True Education Legacy

/
Dr. Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation talks with The Learning Curve co-host Bob Bowdon about her new book, The Not-So-Great-Society, co-edited with Jonathan Butcher, and why the LBJ era is an inflection point for federal intervention in local school policy.

NH Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut on State-Driven K-12 Reform

/
New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut joins "The Learning Curve" podcast this week, plus Bob & Cara break down the new NAEP results, and share education stories out of Denver and Detroit.

The Learning Curve: Andrew Campanella, President of National School Choice Week

/
This week on The Learning Curve, Bob talks with Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week and author of the new book, "The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child."

Dr. Howard Fuller on School Choice & Presidential Politics

/
Cara and Bob talk withthe the great Dr. Howard Fuller, Distinguished Professor of Education, about his passionate activism on behalf of education reform, his concerns about the lack of support among Democratic presidential candidates for charter schools & more!

The Learning Curve: “Wilfred McClay on his new book, Land of Hope”

/
Wilfred McClay, University of Oklahoma Professor, discusses his new high school textbook, "Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story," that seeks to provide an account of this nation's rich and complex story that puts it in proper perspective, and that is both honest and inspiring.

This Week on “The Learning Curve”: Natalie Wexler on her new book, The Knowledge Gap

/
Bob & Cara talk with Natalie Wexler, author of "The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System–And How to Fix It," about the shift in K-12 education, even in the Common Core era, from an emphasis on academic content to empty skills and strategies.