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The reaction against conventional knowledge in higher education

Gordon L. Anderson (President, Paragon House, St Paul, Minnesota, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 4 February 2014




Liberal education should consist of a healthy dynamic of mastering and transcending received traditions. This paper aims to discuss this point.


This article discusses the inherent tension between the concepts of “liberal” and “education,” where “education” involves imparting conventional knowledge and “liberal” involves freeing the mind from it.


With the rise of the social sciences and the maturation of the baby-boomers, higher education in the twentieth century gained a general bias against traditional knowledge. This bias is reflected in higher education becoming more jobs oriented, more ideological, and relativistic in values.

Practical implications

Higher education should consist of greater integration of historical aspects of education pushed aside in the twentieth-century while continuing its transformation through new scientific research, making twenty-first century education more genuinely liberal.


The required transformation will be difficult for many baby-boomers now in positions of authority in higher education who rejected conventional knowledge in the 1960s.



L. Anderson, G. (2014), "The reaction against conventional knowledge in higher education", On the Horizon, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 57-66.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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