Most students can’t rely on a combination of natural aptitude, writing skills and diploma prestige to land a good job. If you’re at Arizona State, majoring in Greek is probably a big mistake. Most college students should be focusing on developing marketable human capital, which means taking courses that will leave them with specific job skills. Classics doesn’t fit this bill.

I also think Freddoso overstates the importance of “the classics” or Great Books for developing a sound worldview, though this is probably my bias coming through. I think Dickens (whom Freddoso includes in an expanded definition of “classics”) is dreadfully boring, and I have no use for ancient philosophy. I actually liked the courses I took in early modern philosophy, but I think my worldview would be basically the same without them. The readings I did in my high school Latin classes made ancient Rome sound like a tawdry soap opera–fun, but not really edifying.

Is Majoring in “Classical Studies” a Good Idea? – By Josh Barro

I think Barro needs to reply to the obvious objection to his argument: that if all your training is in “specific job skills,” what do you do when changes in technological and/or economic conditions eliminate that job? The primary job-oriented argument for liberal-arts education is that it produces students who are resourceful, adaptable, and wide-ranging in their thinking and skills. Now, you may not think that liberal-arts education does in fact produce such students — in which case, make that argument, please — but it would be very foolish to deny that a rapidly-changing economy needs people with the virtues I’ve just listed. Detailed training for a single job won’t cut it any more.