Have a Look at Their Quality

“If I should come here and try to impress you by saying that my institution turned out so many hundred Masters of Arts last year, and would turn out so many hundred more this year, I should expect you to reply somewhat thus: ‘Yes, that is all very fine, very good, but what are they like? To bear the degree of Master of Arts is an immense pretension, and noblesse oblige — how are they justifying it? Are they showing disciplined and experienced minds, are they capable of maintaining a mature and informed disinterestedness, a humane and elevated serenity, in all their views of human life? Do they display invariably the imperial distinction of spirit, the patrician fineness of taste, which we have been taught to associate with that degree of proficiency in the liberal arts? We cannot see that the kind of discipline to which you say they have been subjected has any such bearing. Gymnastics, copy editing, stenography, food etiquette, home laundering, and such like, are commendable pursuits, and we are all for having them well and freely taught, but we cannot see that they tend in the least towards what we have always understood an advanced degree in the liberal arts to mean. Therefore if you ask us to congratulate you on the number of your graduates, we must first have a look at their quality’.” (Albert Jay Nock, 1932, The Theory of Education in the United States)