An alien comes to your door and asks, “What are the most important academic dispositions and capabilities you want to teach your children? Please use very simple language!” My answers are: 1) the habit of daily, sustained and critical reading; 2) the desire and ability to write smooth, thoughtful, and creative prose in a variety of genres; 3) the capacity and willingness to engage in intelligent discourse, listening carefully and offering one’s own opinions without fear and 4) underlying all these performative acts their wellspring: the ability and disposition to think logically, creatively, and practically. I hesitate to say whether this brief and simple list has ever been taken in its pure form as the blueprint for an actual educational programme.

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