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“Matters of Justice:” Why do we need the classics and arts?

By: Maurice Raeford

Marie Gaudio, a humanities professor at the Alpharetta campus, has written a new book “Matters of Justice.”

She says that she was inspired to write the anthology when she was asked a question by a student named Brandon which she refers to in the book as “Brandon’s question.”

One day after class Brandon walked up to her and said he wondered how he was supposed to know ancient people, such as Socrates, that Dr. King refers to in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

Brandon also knew of the Bill of Rights, but never knew what it was about.

Martin Luther King Jr. says in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” that if there is an injustice anywhere, there an injustice everywhere.

The injustice that Gaudio is dealing with in her book is that the humanities, liberal arts and critical thinking are being eliminated in the required curriculum.

Gaudio also believes that students should be learning about people such as Socrates.

She says that without these elements in the curriculum, society cannot expect the students of today to become critical thinkers that will make better communities or challenge the issues at hand.

She wonders how students can better themselves when they are not taught to think for themselves.

When asked if youth could go out and read books to educate themselves, Gaudio said she believes they can but they may not know what questions to ask.

She believes the media plays a big part in this miseducation because they tend to take a paintbrush and with one stroke paint a picture.

She points to the crises going on in Chicago with gang violence and how the media has lead people to believe that there are mostly gang members in this area. Instead of asking why this situation has risen and how to solve it, people believe what they hear at face value.

So, how can we solve these problems that our communities face? Gaudio believes this generation needs to be able to organize and demonstrate against an unjust system without the crutch of the Internet. She understands that people work and have lives but this should not stop them.

Gaudio says the difference between the current educational system and the one of her’s and King’s time is that when they went to school, they went to school to learn about things that they had no knowledge of such as the arts.

According to Gaudio, most of the people of her time had jobs before going to college, because they could always go work the farm and the people of her time were allowed to stay in the nest longer in order to develop themselves.

She says today’s generation moves out earlier and takes on more responsibilities earlier which doesn’t allow them to develop themselves and which means less room for error. The job market is more competitive now and students get degrees just to be able to compete.

Gaudio mentions another writing by King, “The Purpose of an Education,” in which he says, “If we are not careful our colleges will produce a group of closed minded, unscientific, illogical propagandist consumed with immoral acts.”

In her final remarks she stated “Who needs Socrates? We need Socrates if we are expected to un- derstand and appreciate the true meaning of Dr. King’s leadership, not only in the area of civil rights but toward building a just community. It’s safe to say that the need for all students- whatever one’s discipline or occupation- is to build moral character in order to build a just society.”

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