Karl Jaspers argued that academics must be prepared to accept, perhaps even to welcome, the fact that most students 'will learn next to nothing' from a university education. In this paper I shall argue that, while Jaspers' model is unpersuasive as an ideal and inaccurate as a description, there is an uncomfortable truth lurking behind his forthright but gloomy conclusion; viz., that university teaching pays little direct attention to the needs of the student in the wider world (i.e. to the needs of the student qua employee or qua citizen or even qua rounded human being) and pays even less attention, or perhaps none at all, to the needs and expectations of third parties such as employers. In terms of the political context universities now find themselves in, this is an uncomfortable and embarrassing truth for faculty to admit, for it appears to epitomise a self-regarding and inward looking academy. Yet, despite this, perhaps it is a truth that academics should be prepared to accept, even to welcome. At least, in starting any serious discussion on the nature of a university education, it should be a truth we are prepared to admit.
Burwood, S. (2009). The creation of equals. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 43(4), 485-506. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9752.2009.00723.x