Higher Learning for the Conservative Mind


Higher Education: Just Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic?


Though it sounds simplistic, the old adage, ‘Reading, writing and arithmetic’ faithfully outlines the categories of knowledge in higher education. This does not, however, limit the depth of that knowledge—while there are a finite number of things to know, there are truly an infinite number of things to know about those things.

The following video is a clip from Lecture 1 of Hillsdale’s Online Course: “A Proper Understanding of K-12 Education Theory and Practice.”


Watch the full Lecture



Dr. Arnn: You're about to hear about how certain things are taught, and you're going to learn that the things that are taught in school--there's a finite number of them. There's a finite number of kinds of things to know, and those things, by the way, are written in the nature of the human being and in nature.

You know that old summary, reading, writing, and arithmetic? That's almost comprehensive. That's almost all of the ways of knowing that we can have and the kinds of things we can know about. You have to add in the natural sciences, which is related to arithmetic. We believe that in basic education, and in higher education, those are the subjects, and we also believe that the ways of learning those things have not changed very much and cannot change very much. The amount to know about the natural sciences is much greater than it used to be, in a way. In another way, the amount to know about all of the disciplines cannot expand because it's always been, practically speaking, infinite.

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