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A Critical And Rhetorical Analysis Of William Cronon's Only Connect.

1728 words - 7 pages

A Liberal Education? Not According to Cronon. A Critical and Rhetorical Analysis of Cronon's Only Connect.While the term liberal education is heard from the most prestigious university to an inner city community college, the phrase itself has a hazy definition at best. While educators across America struggle with the definition of the phrase, William Cronon uses purpose, structure, and appeals in his essay "Only Connect: The Goals of Liberal education," to define a liberally educated being and the characteristics that such an education should impart. Cronon capitalizes on inductive structuring to lead the reader along, gently building each new statement upon a foundation of previous ideas. This effectively leads the reader to a strange and new concept that a liberal education should nurture the human mind and inspire students to have love for their fellow humanity.One purpose of Cronon's essay is to emancipate the phrase liberal education from the debates and misconceptions that have swirled around the words since their creation while also inspiring educators to embody a teaching philosophy that attempts to create a spiritual love for those around them. While having no definition himself, Cronon states that he is able to answer his question with "a list [...] of personal qualities: the ten values [he] most admire[s] in the people who seem to embody the values of a liberal education"(159). He wishes to move away from the "mantra-like"(156) and "empty"(156) definition that these words hold to a more functional, working explanation of a liberal education. Cronon's list of characteristics provides the reader with a plausible understanding of a liberal education. While Cronon is unable to define a liberal education, he is competent in defining what a liberal education produces. By admitting that he is unable to define a liberal education and instead focusing on the characteristics that such an education embodies, Cronon is laying the groundwork for his revolutionary thesis.Cronon allows the reader to easily see his purpose in the beginning of the piece by debating what a liberal education is. When the reader hears Cronon's turmoil over this subject it is clear that he intends to answer, or attempt to answer this question within the following sections of his work. By making his purpose clear within this section of the essay Cronon effectively communicates what his piece will attempt to do, at least in part, and crafts the clear, easy to read prose which in weaved throughout the rest of the composition.Besides giving the reader a workable definition of liberal education, Cronon also attempts to establish a connection between an education and love. Cronon insists that a "liberal education is about gaining the power and wisdom [...] to connect." (161) He is also trying to establish that while all educations should instill knowledge, they should also inspire love and respect for the world in general. A liberal education is not a definite thing. No course...

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